Orphaned assets include proceeds from an unclaimed estate worth $1.9 million
VANCOUVER, May 2, 2019 /CNW/ - With the federal income tax deadline now behind us, those B.C. taxpayers who weren't lucky enough to receive a tax refund may still have a windfall waiting for them in the form of forgotten funds sitting in a dormant account. According to the B.C. Unclaimed Property Society (BCUPS), there is more than $159 million in unclaimed money sitting in orphaned accounts in the province looking for a home. This includes proceeds from an unclaimed estate worth $1.9 million.
Thousands of B.C. residents have forgotten funds languishing in inactive credit union accounts, as well as unpaid wages, overpayments to debt collectors, proceeds from courts, pension funds, estates and real estate deposits. In 2018, BCUPS received $6,115,202 in unclaimed funds from the courts, credit unions, insurance companies, and the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia, among other organizations to be reunited with the rightful owners.
BCUPS (https://unclaimedpropertybc.ca/), whose mission is to put unclaimed money back in the hands of the true owners, returned $1,720,685 last year from dormant accounts to claimants who were unaware they had forgotten funds.
"Accounts are forgotten and become dormant for a number of reasons," says Alena Levitz, Executive Director of the B.C. Unclaimed Property Society. "If you've moved around a lot, chances are you've become separated from some money that belongs to you. You could have left some funds in a credit union account you forgot to close. Another common scenario is when an employee leaves a place of employment, moves away and the employer can't locate them to give them their final pay."
BCUPS holds unclaimed property as the custodian for rightful owners under the Unclaimed Property Act. The Society maintains a free online database (https://unclaimedpropertybc.ca/searchp/search/) where people can search to see if they have any unclaimed money. Individuals can claim the funds by completing a verification process that firmly establishes their identities as rightful owners. There is no limitation period to claim funds from BCUPS and no cost for their services.
Most unclaimed accounts in BCUPS' database amount to between $300 to $500. The single largest unclaimed property payout by BCUPS was $357,262 made in 2011.
BCUPS also works with companies and organizations to help get dormant assets off their books. Technically, an account is deemed to be dormant when a prescribed period of time has transpired with no activity, from a year to 10 years, depending on the type of account involved. Under B.C. law, credit unions, debt collection agencies, real estate agencies, companies in liquidation, municipal and provincial courts and municipalities, which are classified as mandatory holders, are required to make a "reasonable effort" to identify forgotten account holders, before transferring these funds to BCUPS. Other organizations holding trust funds, insurance policies, brokerage accounts and closed pension plans are encouraged to voluntarily transfer their unclaimed property accounts to BCUPS if the rightful owners cannot be located.
BCUPS was established in 2003 by the Province of British Columbia and Vancouver Foundation to administer B.C.'s unclaimed property program. Since its inception, BCUPS has returned more than $14 million in forgotten funds to the rightful owners. Under its philanthropic business model, a portion of BCUPS outstanding unclaimed funds are transferred to Vancouver Foundation for charitable purposes. Last year, the Society transferred $2.8 million to the Foundation to support community and social programs.
British Columbia is the only jurisdiction in North America that has set up a not-for-profit society to administer its unclaimed property program where a portion of funds are transferred to charity. BCUPS is considered an international leader among unclaimed property organizations recognized for its unique philanthropic business model.
BCUPS Executive Director Alena Levitz and Vancouver Foundation President & CEO Kevin McCort will be presenting at the International Symposium on Utilizing Dormant Assets for Social Issues in Tokyo, Japan on May 13th on BCUPS' business model of using unclaimed funds to advance social issues.
Unclaimed Property in BC by the Numbers
$159,702,621 – Total amount of money sitting in dormant accounts in BC waiting to be claimed, representing 169,374 accounts.
$6,115,202 – Amount of unclaimed funds BCUPS received from financial institutions, companies and organizations in 2018.
$1,720,685 – Amount of money paid to verified claimants in 2018, representing more than 1,200 individual accounts.
$95,924,829 – Total amount of money from dormant accounts BCUPS has received since its inception on April 1, 2003, representing 103,251 unclaimed accounts.
$14,870,604 – Approximate amount of money from dormant accounts BCUPS has returned to the rightful owners since its inception, representing 8,317 accounts.
$38,275,830 – Funds BCUPS has transferred to Vancouver Foundation for charitable purposes since its inception.
$357,262 – Largest amount claimed.
Approximately $1.9 million – Largest dormant account waiting to be claimed.
SOURCE B.C. Unclaimed Property Society
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