Did you know that Australia has around $1.5 billion worth of unclaimed assets? Unclaimed assets refer to ‘lost’ funds that are due to a rightful owner and may come from various sources including shares, bank accounts, insurance policies and inheritances. Some of these unclaimed assets have rightful owners located all around the world, many unaware they have an entitlement to claim the assets.
Assets can become lost, forgotten or unclaimed for many reasons. A person may fail to update their contact and address information with a financial institution or company, they could lose track of an asset, or they may be entirely unaware of money left to them to claim. If the rightful owner cannot be tracked, a custodian captures these funds until it is claimed.
Do I have unclaimed assets?
Unclaimed assets are available to be claimed by the rightful owner at any time without any time constraint. The first step is to find out if you have any unclaimed assets. Conducting a free unclaimed asset search, for example through www.findingmyassets.com, will inform you whether you have any unclaimed assets and may also direct you to the custodian of the asset, in which case you can proceed to directly claim your assets.
Should you have unclaimed assets but the search cannot locate the asset custodian, the next step is to reach out to an asset research company. An asset research team will then investigate the details of the asset, consolidate various lost assets as applicable, and assist you with the identification and recovery of the asset(s).
Why do I have unclaimed assets?
Even if you manage your finances carefully, you may still have unclaimed assets that you are unaware of. Unclaimed assets may also include unclaimed estates. Assets may become lost, forgotten or unclaimed because of death, divorce, change of address, ill health and many other reasons. Many people are unaware of their unclaimed assets, which always makes for an unexpected yet pleasant financial bonus.
According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), an independent commission of the Australian government that administers unclaimed money in assets such as bank accounts and life insurance policies, funds from these sources become unclaimed after seven years of account inactivity or if the policy matures. Interest is also payable to the owner for unclaimed assets that have been held by ASIC since 2013. Lost superannuation, unpaid wages and money held by state governments can also be tracked and claimed by consulting the Australian Taxation Office, the Fair Work Ombudsman and state governments.
How do I claim my unclaimed assets?
If you have unclaimed assets but are unable to reach the custodian directly, it is in your best interest to seek professional assistance. Each asset case is unique and may present complexities beyond your reach. Moreover, an unclaimed asset search does not reveal the details and value of an asset, which requires further professional investigation.
Worthington Clark is a specialist genealogy firm in Sydney, with an asset research division called Rightful Claims that has a no-win-no-fee policy, which means no fee is due unless your funds are located and reclaimed to your name. To submit a claim, the rightful owner needs to provide proof of identity, proof of a connection to the asset and/or proof of a connection to the registered address of the asset. Once your claim documents have been submitted, it typically takes 8-12 weeks to successfully claim a lost asset. The claims process may be prolonged due to complex matters such as deceased estate, trusts and name changes.
An asset research team such as Rightful Claims will streamline the process of finding and claiming lost assets by managing communications with the various private and government agencies involved, preparing and managing all documentation required by asset custodians, and ensuring you receive the assets you are rightfully entitled to. This service is particularly helpful if you are located overseas, in a different time zone, and unable to communicate effectively with the unclaimed asset custodians. If you want to find out if you have unclaimed assets or require support to locate and claim lost funds, enlisting professional support will give you the best chance at success.
Worthington Clark is a boutique, family-owned and operated professional genealogy and asset research firm in Sydney with over 40 years of experience in genealogy research for lawyers, trustees, companies, executors and beneficiaries. Request a quote for help from your genealogy specialists today and discover our variety of genealogy services!