More Than $159 Million Sitting in Dormant Accounts in B.C. Looking for a Home
According to annual financial statements from the B.C. Unclaimed Property Society (BCUPS), there is now more than $159 million in unclaimed money sitting in orphaned accounts in the province looking for a home.
Thousands of B.C. residents have forgotten funds languishing in inactive credit union accounts, as well as unpaid wages, overpayments to debt collectors, proceeds from courts, pension funds, estates and real estate deposits. In 2018, BCUPS received $6,115,202 in unclaimed funds from the courts, credit unions, insurance companies, and the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia, among other organizations to be reunited with the rightful owners.
BCUPS (https://unclaimedpropertybc.ca) whose mission is to put unclaimed money back in the hands of the true owners, returned $1,720,685 last year from dormant accounts to claimants who were unaware they had forgotten funds.
BCUPS holds unclaimed property as the custodian for rightful owners under the Unclaimed Property Act. The Society maintains a free online database (https://unclaimedpropertybc.ca/searchp/search/) where people can search to see if they have any unclaimed money. Individuals can claim the funds by completing a verification process that firmly establishes their identities as rightful owners. There is no limitation period to claim funds from BCUPS and no cost for their services.
BCUPS also works with companies and organizations to help get dormant assets off their books. Technically, an account is deemed to be dormant when a prescribed period of time has transpired with no activity, from a year to 10 years, depending on the type of account involved. Under B.C. law, credit unions, debt collection agencies, real estate agencies, companies in liquidation, municipal and provincial courts and municipalities, which are classified as mandatory holders, are required to make a “reasonable effort” to identify forgotten account holders, before transferring these funds to BCUPS. Other organizations holding trust funds, insurance policies, brokerage accounts and closed pension plans are encouraged to voluntarily transfer their unclaimed property accounts to BCUPS if the rightful owners cannot be located.
BCUPS was established in 2003 by the Province of British Columbia and Vancouver Foundation to administer B.C.’s unclaimed property program. Since its inception, BCUPS has returned more than $14 million in forgotten funds to the rightful owners. Under its philanthropic business model, a portion of BCUPS outstanding unclaimed funds are transferred to Vancouver Foundation for charitable purposes. Last year, the Society transferred $2.8 million to the Foundation to support community and social programs.
British Columbia is the only jurisdiction in North America that has set up a not-for-profit society to administer its unclaimed property program where a portion of funds are transferred to charity. BCUPS is considered an international leader among unclaimed property organizations recognized for its unique social impact business model.
Unclaimed Property in BC by the Numbers
$159,702,621 – Total amount of money sitting in dormant accounts in BC waiting to be claimed, representing 169,374 accounts.
$6,115,202 – Amount of unclaimed funds BCUPS received from financial institutions, companies and organizations in 2018.
$1,720,685 – Amount of money paid to verified claimants in 2018, representing more than 1,200 individual accounts.
$95,924,829 – Total amount of money from dormant accounts BCUPS has received since its inception on April 1, 2003, representing 103,251 unclaimed accounts.
$14,870,604 – Approximate amount of money from dormant accounts BCUPS has returned to the rightful owners since its inception, representing 8,317 accounts.
$38,275,830 – Funds BCUPS has transferred to Vancouver Foundation for charitable purposes since its inception.
$357,262 – Largest amount claimed.
Approximately $1.9 million – Largest dormant account waiting to be claimed.