It is estimated that roughly £50bn is sitting untouched in various accounts, belonging to around 20 million people who have failed to claim their assets. But how do these assets become lost and how do you trace lost assets in your name?
Why do Assets Become Lost?
It’s easy to lose track of assets in a number of ways. Typically moving house and forgetting to update your address with the asset provider. Perhaps you have made investments that you do not recall. Then there are factors beyond your control. Possibly the death of the asset holder and the executors not being aware of it. Or corporate changes such as mergers or takeovers that give rise to entitlements you are not aware of.
What Happens to a Lost Asset?
There are procedures in place to try and contact customers before asset providers mark your account as lost. Providers will store money in dormant accounts for several years. This is so they can return the asset fairly immediately if the account is then traced. Accounts are declared dormant if the provider can no longer reach you with correspondence to your last known address. Investment providers will continue to administer your investment, but if you forget to update your details on the account, you can no longer monitor how that investment is performing. It is easier to keep track of various assets in the digital age, because providers are more likely to email you with correspondence, or perhaps you manage your banking and investments through app based platforms, however it’s still important to keep your details up to date. This also supports building a good credit score. If an asset becomes lost and is not traced, after 15 years, any provider which belongs to the government’s Dormant Assets Scheme can dissolve the lost asset and give the money to charitable causes. Most of the large banks belong to this scheme. It’s worth remembering that it is possible to reclaim money that belongs to you in lost assets after this point, if it can be traced and proven, so it is worth taking the time to trace lost assets, whatever their age.
How to Trace Lost Assets
The best way to trace lost assets is to contact the financial provider and ask them to search for your lost account, with the relevant details. Of course this may not be so easy, since it’s lost, you might not even know you have accounts in your name sitting dormant. Fortunately most services for tracing lost assets are free, so you have nothing to lose. One such service is My Lost Account. This service will turn up accounts that have been marked as lost. If you have lost track of an account, but they have not yet marked it as lost by the provider, possibly because they have not had correspondence returned to them from your old address, this service will not be suitable. A point to note is that you should be wary of surrendering account details to a third party / person claiming to help you trace lost assets that you haven’t sought out yourself, because this could be a scam. If you have a lost asset but the provider can’t agree on the validity of your claim, you have the right to appeal directly with the bank. Following this, you can ask the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) for assistance. You may have lost track of an account that hasn’t been marked as lost by the provider.
Investments and Pensions
For workplace pension schemes, the best method is to contact your former employer or you can use the government’s free online Pension Tracing Service.
What if you Trace a Lost Asset?
If you have been fortunate enough to trace and reclaim a lost asset, the best plan of action is to move the money into a high interest account, anything that has been dormant will likely have a poor interest rate. Move over to a new account that does the hard work of making your money work for you. Consider tracking your assets with app technology on your smartphone.
At Prestige Business Management we can help your Business
Prestige Business Management can provide guidance and expertise in how to manage your assets and achieve the best value for money. Call us today on 0203 773 2927.