What Exactly is Unclaimed Property?
Global Regulatory Environment
Why do Financial Assets Become Lost?
Challenges with Financial Asset Location and Recovery
Why do I Need the Expertise of Independent Corporate Recovery Advisors?
Frequently Asked Questions
To proceed with claim
South Africa, being an important global player in the international financial community, is exposed to the escheatment laws of foreign jurisdictions due to the significant annual volume of government, corporate and consumer transactions with US, UK, Canadian, Australian and other global trade partners.
Today, government finance ministries at the federal, state, provincial, county and city levels in the US and throughout the English Commonwealth are holding a minimum of US$100 Billion in unclaimed financial assets, awaiting claims by the legitimate owners.
Other English Commonwealth nations without unclaimed property legislation in place yet, the total amount of dormant financial assets is unknown but is estimated to be up to an additional US$20 Billion.
These amounts grow by about 15%-20% annually because new dormant funds are continuously being added at a greater rate than owners can be found for the existing unclaimed money.
Also, the escheatment laws currently in place are constantly being amended to add new assets types, such as gift cards, brokerage accounts, pension funds and insurance policies, and to reduce the dormancy periods for existing types of assets under legislation, such as bank accounts and vendor cheques.
These actions combine to accelerate the number and value of dormant assets being transferred to governments annually.
Businesses and agencies can find themselves in possession of money that belongs to another company, government or person who has never received or claimed the funds. Perhaps a bank draft or corporate dividend cheque was not cashed, or the owner of a brokerage account has moved, or an insurance claim refund due was not received, or someone forgot about transferring a bank account after a merger or acquisition: all of these circumstances can result in unclaimed, or lost, financial assets.
Under a variety of unclaimed property laws in various US and English Commonwealth jurisdictions, the common denominator is that any holders of these unclaimed or dormant financial assets must file annual reports which include the last known address information of the rightful owners of the balances, and remit the funds to the appropriate government agency. However for jurisdictions where there are no such laws these funds remain with the businesses or agencies that held the assets when they became dormant, and simply accumulate. Some lost or forgotten original sources of consumer, corporate or government unclaimed property are as follows:
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- Orphan bank accounts after individuals or companies move or due to death of the account holder
- Bank drafts, uncashed cheques, certified cheques and corporate dividend payments
- Bankruptcy claim settlements
- Certificates of deposit, brokerage accounts, mutual funds
- Dividend and interest payments due but not deposited
- Tax refunds or insurance proceeds
- Government agencies, corporations and individuals are owed money derived from over 60 different types of unclaimed financial assets that are being held in trust by foreign governments for the rightful owners.
In the United States, every one of the 50 states and several US territories have enacted unclaimed property (escheat) laws requiring all types of dormant and unclaimed financial assets be turned over and legally held by the various State or Federal Government agencies on behalf of their rightful owners.
Many other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas also have new or mature unclaimed property laws that impact individuals and corporations that operate or transact in these jurisdictions. More countries are expected to follow as governments seek to control and use the significant funds available from dormant accounts as a new source of revenue in lieu of introducing new taxes. Governments are viewed as a preferred custodian of these funds operating in the interests of and on behalf of their citizens and taxpayers
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There are many reasons why financial assets become lost, and legislation governs what happens to them when, after a period of inactivity, they become dormant. Legally, attempts must be made by businesses or organizations holding these assets to contact the rightful owners, to make them aware that the assets are approaching dormancy. Contact attempts can be unsuccessful because:
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- Human error such as a simple typographical error in an address makes the mail undeliverable
- Heirs and beneficiaries from life insurance policies cannot be located
- People move and businesses relocate and mail is not properly redirected
- Personal and corporate names can be misspelled
- Punctuation can become non-standard and acronyms and trade names can be varied
- Name, address, city or country abbreviations can be introduced inconsistently
- Corporate names change through merger/acquisition activity
- Staff changes can disrupt continuity of information
- Corporations may prematurely write-off assets at quarterly and annual reporting.
Finding and recovering lost financial assets in any one of the nearly 100 global jurisdictions has become increasingly complex and inefficient without the assistance of a professional asset locator and recovery service firm that knows where to look, can aggregate the data using technology, and is experienced in navigating the claim process. And time can be of the essence where fees are charged by the government for maintenance of the asset records thereby continually eroding their value.
Some Government agencies provide searchable websites for unclaimed property but these sites don’t always yield expected search results when they should.
Here are a few reasons:
- Online searches can be limited by the functionality of the websites. They were not designed for complex or multiple name searches, only for individuals looking for a specific name. Thus they only allow a single search at a time and often require an exact name match to return any results.
- Listings which contain misspellings, non-standard punctuation, abbreviations or acronyms will be missed with standard search techniques. This type of human data entry error is the biggest impediment to finding lost assets and is often the same reason that the asset was initially lost.
- A complete and comprehensive search would require identifying and accessing nearly 100 government databases in many jurisdictions, most of which are unknown or not easily accessible.
Once lost assets have been identified, the recovery process can be administratively difficult and time-consuming. Each jurisdiction has its own paperwork and claim processing system, there could be multiple types of forms for various types of assets, and they have very stringent thresholds for proof of ownership. Legislation imposes strict responsibility for proper disbursement of the funds held, so government employees are very careful about making sure the money goes to the rightful owners. This can be frustrating and inefficient for owners when making single claims or in multiple jurisdictions.
Engaging a professional asset location and recovery firm is the most efficient and effective method of finding unclaimed dormant financial assets – and recovering them – in today’s economic climate.
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So, why do you need Independent Corporate Recovery Advisors to help locate and recover your lost financial assets? For a few reasons:
- We have invested considerable time and resources to access or gather unclaimed asset information from nearly 100 government sources around the world.
- We use this information to create our own proprietary, customized search systems, which enable us to efficiently and effectively locate the rightful owners of the assets.
- Our sophisticated process recognizes and corrects errors in names and fragmented addresses, so that assets that were long-lost can now be identified and the owners contacted.
- Because our sources are global and comprehensive, without Independent Corporate Recovery Advisors you might never learn of the existence of your lost assets.
- Not only do we locate lost assets and find the rightful owners – we manage the entire recovery process.
Since our fees are success based, our reward comes only after our goal of recovering your assets has been achieved. We diligently follow up with the government holders of your lost assets and handle, on your behalf, barriers or difficulties in the claiming process.
We charge a fee for our work, but only when you receive your money.
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Q. How did you locate me and decide I am the legal owner?
A. We use a multi-stage research process into public databases, which includes cross-references at every step, to eliminate non-owners. We contact only those whom we consider highly likely to be the rightful or legal asset owner.
Q. Will I be asked for current bank account details?
A. Never. Information about old, unused bank accounts or other dormant financial assets may be needed by the government custodian(s) of the assets to process your claim, but never your current bank account information.
Q. Are there any up-front fees?
A. No. There are no up-front fees for our services; we absorb all costs related to the identification of assets and locating the owners. Some of the custodians charge small filing fees for each account. A few others charge a percentage of the asset value, which they deduct directly from the payout. Independent Corporate Recovery Advisors will never ask you for payment for our services before you receive your recovered asset(s).
Q. How long does the process take?
A. From the time the claim is received by the government entity holding the asset, it typically takes anywhere from 60 to 180 days for you to receive your payout. Factors which impact the timing are: proof of ownership – type required and provided; volume of claims at the custodian; any unique jurisdictional compliance requirements for certain asset types; mailing time for interim correspondence, etc.
Any more questions or to proceed with claim phone Leanne 021 8805400 or email us
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