Everything from dormant bank and building society accounts, unclaimed Premium Bonds and prizes; National Savings and Investments Stamps & Gift Tokens, Post Office savings accounts, bonds & certificates; orphan pensions, unknown National Lottery winnings, missing life insurance, estates and court fund balances; unclaimed windfall shares arising from demutualisation, lost government stock & gilts, and much, much more.
The Financial Times estimates unclaimed assets 'very conservatively' total £77 billion!
Family members are often unaware they’re entitled to collect unclaimed assets owed deceased relatives. And while many holders make an effort to find lost owners, it is a difficult task indeed considering the large numbers of missing owners, and the fact they may have changed address over the years. It is important, therefore, that you initiate a search for unclaimed money - don't depend on holders of forgotten funds to contact you.
Accounts are considered lost or unclaimed when contact with the owner is lost over an extended period of time: typically due to a name change after marriage or divorce, an unreported change of address or expired postal forwarding order, and incomplete or illegible records. Exactly how long depends on the type of asset involved, but 15 years is, perhaps, most common.
There is no central unclaimed assets database. One should first attempt to contact the original issuer or holder of the asset. NS&I, for example, can trace unclaimed Premium Bonds and Prizes. For some types of assets trade associations may be able to assist. The BBA and BSA will help you locate dormant bank and building society accounts, even if the bank has merged out of existence or the building society has demutualised.
In most cases there is no time limit, but there are some types of claims that must be made within a set period of years - unclaimed demutualisation windfalls being a prime example - so prompt action is advisable. It's worth noting an unclaimed assets scheme recently proposed by Treasury would transfer the balances from bank and building society accounts dormant longer than fifteen years to various charitable causes, but account owners could come forth at any point in the future and reclaim their funds.
Each country has different laws, policies and procedures regarding unclaimed funds. To conduct a search for assets that may be held in other countries visit www.unclaimedassets.com