James Kelso
June 5, 2024

People change banks and don’t close accounts. Individuals get sick and forget what investments they took out. People die, leaving insurance policies behind. Money sits in solicitors trust accounts and bank accounts. Money owing by IRD to individuals remains with the Commissioner.  These are common examples of unclaimed monies recipients miss out on. 

Literally at any one time, millions of dollars around the world, languish in accounts unclaimed. Why does this happen?  Usually because the rightful owner has forgotten about the money or is unaware the money exists. Take for example the case where a person dies, and no claim is made on their life insurance policy because the executor isn’t aware the deceased took out a policy. That happens on a regular basis. Irrespective of the reason why the $$$ are not claimed, legitimate recipients miss out. In some cases, this can be enormously financially detrimental.

So what happens to all those dollars, pounds and euros left in accounts? In New Zealand, the money holder has a duty to try and find the legal owner of the money. Where they have attempted this but been unsuccessful, and on the basis the money has been left untouched by its owner for a period of around five years, the money will be transferred to the IRD, the Public Trust, or in some cases Treasury, pursuant to the Unclaimed Money Act.  Trust accounts are prime examples that fall into this category.

Recently we mentioned the matter of unclaimed moneys to one of our clients.  They checked and were surprised to find twenty thousand dollars owing to them.  Whilst this is a nice surprise, but for us mentioning the matter, their funds may have languished with the IRD for years.

How do you know if you’re owed any unclaimed money? Try logging onto the IRD website and searching. Here is the link  www.ird.govt.nz/unclaimedmoney

On the basis, you want to guard against this unfortunate state of affairs transpiring you could write a note or a letter listing the names of the accountants, solicitors, insurance companies, and banks,  addressed to your survivors / executors, which contains these details. This goes a long way to pointing those charged with administering your affairs  and estate in the right direction. If you want to read more about this,  order your copy of Trusts 123 from Greenlion. The information in this book might save your intended beneficiaries from missing out on what’s rightfully theirs.

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