Wealth

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Get back money you’d forgotten you had!

It’s estimated that over £20 billion lies unclaimed in the UK. With a little detective work you can track down  lost money that could be yours

You might be wondering how so much money can go unclaimed? Pretty easy really.

You set up a savings account with every intention of regularly depositing money into it. Very soon after  the enthusiasm dwindles and deposits stop- especially when you’re young. The account is forgotten, you move  house a couple of times and the bank which has your money takes a less than proactive approach in finding  the rightful owner. With interest that initial savings could now be worth considerably more. Instead the bank has it. Dormant  bank accounts like this account for over £5 billion in unclaimed money

But it’s not just bank accounts. Money can go unclaimed for many reasons, including:

- You leave a company a lose contact with a pension scheme
- Relatives set up savings plans you’re unaware of
- Dividends from shares are unclaimed
- You were paying a policy but lost the paperwork or forgot the company name
- Your partner or relative had a life insurance policy or pension you were unaware of

Bank Accounts, Building Society Accounts,National Savings & Premium Bonds

These are generally easy to trace, as there are  good systems already in place to help you do this

If you know which provider your account was with, all you need to do is  collect a tracing form from any branch, or print one off from the British  Bankers’ Association or Building Societies  Association websites. It’s only one page long, and asks you the name of the account holders, the  addresses lived at since the account was opened, the account number and sort  code, and type of account. You don’t have to provide all the information, but  the more you can give, the more likely they are to be able to find any unclaimed  money. Send the form directly to the bank or building society or take it to any  branch

If the provider finds an account that matches your information, it’ll  contact you to explain how you can access the unclaimed funds, including any  interest, in the account. You’ll need to provide proof of identity in order to  access the money

NS&I also runs a tracing service for unclaimed money. You simply fill out  a two-page form but it can take up to 12 months for a response

If you don’t know or are unsure which provider your lost account is with, or the  organisation no longer exists, then try mylostaccount.org.uk.  You can search 42 banks, all UK building societies and all NS&I products  free of charge by completing just one form online. The search can take up to 12  weeks to complete. If an account in your name is found, you’ll be contacted  directly by the provider within 90 days

If you prefer not to do it online, you can use the postal services operated by the British  Bankers’ Association, Building Societies  Association and the NS&I but you’ll need to complete a separate form for  each

Pensions

If you’ve think you’ve got a lost pension somewhere in teh ether, use the Pension  Tracing Service operated by the Department  for Work and Pensions. It has access to over 200,000 occupational and  personal schemes and is very easy to use. All you need to know is the name of your previous employer or pension scheme – although if you can give more information, it will improve your chances of  finding a current address for the scheme

What the tracing service can’t do is tell you if you actually have any  pension benefit with the particular scheme you’re looking for. It simply gives  you a contact address for the administrators of the scheme and then it’s up to  you to contact them directly

Premium Bonds

With over £30 million in unclaimed premium bond prizes, it’s worth  checking that you haven’t missed out on a prize. There’s no time limit for  claiming. NS&I attempts to contact all  winners, but can only do so if they have their current contact details. If you know your holder’s number, you can check using the online  premium bonds prize checker. If you don’t have any documentation, but  believe you have some premium bonds, then you can use a tracing request form,  available on the NS&I website. You can  use the same form to check whether a deceased investor had any premium bonds.  Alternatively, you can use mylostaccount.org.uk to do a  search

Shares and dividends

Tracing shares and dividends is more complex than finding lost bank accounts  or pensions, but it can be done. If you think you have shares in a company, but have lost your share  certificate, you can check by applying to the company registrars. They’ll search  their records and, for a fee, will supply you with a replacement  certificate

There are three main share registrars – Capita  Registrars, Computershare and Equiniti. You can find out which registrar  deals with the company you’re interested in by using the company profile search  on the London Stock Exchange’s  website. Alternatively, call the company in question

If you’ve got old share certificates in a company that you can no longer  track down, contact the registrars named on the certificate. Usually, they’ll be  able to trace the history of the company. They’ll also be able to search for any  unclaimed dividends that you may have missed. Failing that, try calling each of  the three big registrars

If you have any out-of-date dividend cheques, or you’ve lost any dividend  cheques, you can ask the registrar to replace them for you – there may be a fee  for this. The time limit for claiming back unclaimed dividends is usually 12  years. Computershare  also operates the government’s scheme for tracing lost gilts. If you think you  have a claim, write to Computershare  giving as much information as possible

Building society windfalls

There are still loads of people who haven’t claimed their share entitlement  following building society and life company demutualisations. Time has run out  for many as after 12 years, the entitlement (which will now be to cash rather  than shares) reverts to the company and can be used for general purposes

If you want to claim after this time, you’d need to satisfy the court that  you’re entitled to the money. Bradford and Bingley went public in 2000, which means that the 12-year time limit runs out  this year. If you think you may have a claim, contact the provider  concerned

Likewise, there are some unclaimed shares in life companies, such as Friends  Provident and Standard Life,  which have also demutualised. Standard Life launched a campaign in September  2008 to find 200,000 people who have yet to claim a total of £184 million. If  you think you may have a claim, contact these companies directly

Life insurance

Tracking down old life insurance policies when you don’t have any policy details can be quite tricky, as the life insurance industry doesn’t operate a  tracing service. The Association of British Insurers (ABI)  suggests that you try the Unclaimed Assets  Register, which has details of some unclaimed life policies. Of course, if you know the name of the company concerned, you can approach  them directly. The ABI has a company directory which you can use to get  up-to-date contact details

Friendly societies

Friendly societies are mutual organisations offering savings and investments.  There were hundreds of them in the early 1950s, but many of these have since  merged or transferred their business. If you come across an old friendly society policy, it’s quite likely that the  friendly society no longer exists. But you can try to track down what’s happened  to the policy by contacting the Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM), which  has a back register of some mergers and transfers

If you don’t have any policy details, but believe you, or perhaps a deceased  relative, had a policy with a friendly society, you will be able to use the  search service set up by the AFS called My  Assets Reunited. The drawback is that it doesn’t cover every Friendly  Society. Some that aren’t included already provide information to the Unclaimed  Assets Register

The Unclaimed Assets Register

An Experian company, the Unclaimed Assets Register has a database of more than three million unclaimed life policies, pensions,  unit trust holdings, and share dividends drawn from many companies.For £25, you can search their dataabase. You’ll just need your current name and address and any previous ones. You can  also search on behalf of someone else, provided you’re legally entitled to do  so. You can check which companies supply information on the website

For your £25, a search of the whole database is conducted, and where a match  occurs you’ll be given details of the provider and how to contact them.  Successful searches reunite people with an average of £6,000

Although having to pay for this service isn’t ideal, this search does help  you to look for some of the products that are harder to track down, and is  particularly useful if you don’t have any details of the investment or policy.  If your search isn’t successful, that doesn’t mean you have no unclaimed assets,  just that you have none with the companies who have provided details to UAR

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  1. Jim Bogaert

    April 18, 2012

    I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one today..

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