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Navigating Unclaimed Inheritances in Canada


In Canada, unclaimed inheritances refer to assets, properties, or funds left behind by deceased individuals that have not been claimed by their rightful heir or beneficiaries.

There are several reasons why inheritances may go unclaimed in Canada. Sometimes, beneficiaries may be unaware of their entitlement to unclaimed property, especially if the deceased’s will was not properly executed or updated. Other times, beneficiaries may be difficult to locate, particularly if they have moved or changed their contact information without notifying their financial institution, family members, or friends.

If you think you have an unclaimed inheritance, you can contact the Canadian Bankers Association, use the British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society search engine, and the Bank of Canada online search engine to locate the unclaimed inheritance.

Our knowledgeable estate law lawyers with over 20 years of experience under their belts can assist you in preparing a will that will decrease the likelihood of unclaimed accounts by your beneficiary after your passing. If you want to know more about preparing a strong will, reach out to Onyx Law Group.

This blog will provide insight into identifying whether you have an unclaimed inheritance, how to claim unclaimed property and unclaimed balances in Canada, and the benefits of preparing a will to ensure your assets are given to your beneficiaries.

Identifying if You Have an Unclaimed Inheritance, Canada

Identifying if You Have an Unclaimed Inheritance, Canada

An unclaimed inheritance refers to unclaimed assets, unclaimed balances, or unclaimed property left behind by a deceased individual that has not been collected by their designated heirs or beneficiaries.

In recent years, efforts have been made by the Bank of Canada to develop unclaimed property programs and reunite unclaimed property with their rightful owners. However, despite these efforts, a significant amount of unclaimed balances still exist.

For example, as of June 30, 2022, the Bank of Canada reported that it was sitting on nearly $1.1 billion in unclaimed money contained in 2.5 million accounts and estates.

The Canadian Bankers Association works on behalf of 60 domestic banks and promotes financial literacy to help Canadians make informed financial decisions. If you believe you’re entitled to an unclaimed inheritance, it may be worthwhile to reach out to the Canadian Bankers Association.

The Bank of Canada also provides an online search engine for unclaimed bank balances. The online search engine provided by the British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society could also yield valuable results.

If there are no results after consulting with the Canadian Bankers Association, British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society search engine and the Bank of Canada online search engine but you still believe you have an unclaimed inheritance, it may be beneficial to reach out to Canada Revenue Agency as well.

Before reaching out to possibly obtain your unclaimed inheritance, it is important to have the required documentation such as the deceased person’s will naming you as a beneficiary, government-issued identification to confirm your identity and your Social Insurance Number.

What Happens if you are a Beneficiary and are not Contacted by the Estate Administrator?

What Happens if you are a Beneficiary and are not Contacted by the Estate Administrator?

If an executor of a deceased person’s will after making reasonable efforts is unable to locate a beneficiary, and the deceased person has left a specific gift of property to the beneficiary, the executor may exercise discretion to sell the property, deduct any costs related to storage, transportation, and sale of the property and hold the net proceeds in a trust. The net proceeds can also be transferred to the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia to hold in the trust for the beneficiary.

The executor may also make an application to pay the net proceeds into court after deducting the costs of doing so.

If a beneficiary has been located and notified of the specific gift but neglects or refuses to make arrangements to take delivery of the property, the executor may sell the property, deduct any costs related to the storage, transportation, and sale of the property and send the net proceeds to the beneficiary.

Also, federally regulated banks will consider the balance of a dormant bank account after 10 years to be unclaimed funds and they will transfer the unclaimed funds to the Bank of Canada. The financial institutions must advise you in writing at your last known address on their file of the unclaimed funds after two, five and nine years of inactivity. After 10 years of inactivity, the unclaimed balance transfers to the Bank of Canada.

Unclaimed balances are held by the Bank of Canada for 30 years if the amount is less than $1,000 and for 100 years if the amount is $1,000 or over. At the end of the prescription period, the balance is transferred to the Receiver General of Canada.

To ensure that you are being contacted regarding any unclaimed money, make sure that your mailing address is always up to date at your financial institutions.

How do I Claim Unclaimed Money in Canada?

How do I Claim Unclaimed Money in Canada?

If the net proceeds of the sale of a property are being held in the court’s trust or by the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia, we suggest reaching out to an experienced estate lawyer who can apply to the court or contact the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia on your behalf to release the funds that you are entitled to.

If your unclaimed inheritance is being held by the Bank of Canada and is under $5,000, you can submit claim documentation on their website.

The current legislation restricts the scope of information disclosed by financial institutions to the Bank of Canada in respect of unclaimed balances. Lack of detailed information can make it difficult to verify claims and often requires the bank to request additional information from claimants and financial institutions. You must have the necessary documentation such as the will naming you as a beneficiary, your Social Insurance Number and date of birth.

It is a advisable to retain an estate lawyer to assist in reclaiming your inheritance as the process and documentation required are extensive and sometimes complicated. Reach out to expert estate lawyers in Vancouver today and we can assist you in reclaiming your inheritance.

Locating unclaimed funds and unclaimed bank accounts in Canada can prevent several challenges such as complex claim procedures, if you have limited information available about the possible unclaimed inheritance, and privacy regulations may restrict the release of information about unclaimed money, making it challenging to release the unclaimed funds.

It is important to work with estate lawyers to assist you in preparing a will that will decrease the likelihood of your assets being unclaimed and eventually transferred to the Bank of Canada. If you want to know more about preparing a strong will with an experienced estate lawyer, reach out to Onyx Law Group today.

How to Claim Unclaimed Property in BC?

How to Claim Unclaimed Property in BC?

 

If you are trying to locate unclaimed property in British Columbia specifically, you can use the British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society search engine. All you will require to submit a claim is your full name, your relationship as the rightful owner of the unclaimed property, and your email. Once your claim is submitted, the British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society will contact you by email requesting further information should your claim be valid.

Unclaimed property, through the British Columbia Unclaimed Property, includes intestate estates, credit union accounts, unpaid wages, and insurance payments (this is not an exhaustive list). This does not include land or buildings.

If you are entitled to land or buildings as per a will and the executor is unable to contact you within 12 months of the grant of probate, the executor may sell the property, deduct any costs related to storage, transportation and sale of the property and hold the net proceeds in a trust. The net proceeds can also be held in trust by the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia.

If the net proceeds are to be held by the executor, the executor must promptly pay the net proceeds into court after deducting the costs of doing so.

If you believe you are entitled to unclaimed property then it is pertinent that you contact the executor or the executor’s lawyer to claim the property before it is sold and the money is paid into court or held in trust by the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia.

Once the unclaimed funds are paid into court or held in trust by the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia, you cannot receive the funds unless you apply to the court allowing the funds to be released to you. This can be a lengthy and complicated process, and we strongly suggest retaining an estate lawyer to represent you should you be applying to remove funds from court.

Avoiding Unclaimed Inheritances: Why You Should Write a Will

Avoiding Unclaimed Inheritances: Why You Should Write a Will

Several strategies can be employed by estate planners to prevent inheritances from becoming unclaimed, such as maintaining updated estate planning documents including wills, trusts, and updating beneficiary contact information, if applicable, and communicating with beneficiaries regarding their potential inheritance so that at the time of your passing, they are aware that they are named as beneficiaries and can reach out to the executor first, or look into why the executor hasn’t contacted them if necessary.

To effectively communicate with your beneficiaries, it is important that you choose the right timing and that your discussion is planned, direct and transparent. Ideally, a conversation with a beneficiary regarding their inheritance should happen when the estate planning process is underway or nearing completion, but before the individual’s passing to avoid waiting until the last minute or during times of emotional distress.

Need Help with Getting ownership of Unclaimed Money?

Having a well-written will is the first step in making sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes, thus preventing the possibility of an unclaimed inheritance.

By clearly outlining your beneficiaries and specifying how assets should be divided, a will can provide legal clarity and minimize the risk of disputes among potential inheritors.

If your inheritance is unclaimed, there are various ways in British Columbia and Canada to recoup the unclaimed money or assets.

If you suspect that you may have unclaimed money, or inheritance, taking action with a lawyer at Onyx Law Group is essential to protect your rights and interests. A skilled estate lawyer can provide invaluable guidance and expertise in navigating the complexities of inheritance law and estate administration.

A lawyer can offer personalized advice and advocacy tailored to your unique situation. Don’t leave your inheritance unclaimed – take proactive steps by reaching out to Onyx Law Group today at 604-265-9843 to secure what rightfully belongs to you.

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