There is $149 million in 'unclaimed money' in dormant B.C. accounts: society

Society reaching out to the public

Most unclaimed accounts in the database amount to between $300 and $500 | Photo: Mike Wakefield, North Shore News files

There is now more than $149 million in unclaimed money from dormant accounts in B.C. available to be claimed by the rightful owners, according to the most recent financial statements released by the not-for-profit BC Unclaimed Property Society (BCUPS).

This includes an outstanding $1.9-million estate the legal heirs are unaware of – the largest unclaimed account in the BCUPS's database.

BCUPS (unclaimedpropertybc.ca) is the administrator of British Columbia's unclaimed property program.

In 2020, BCUPS returned $1,035,932 from dormant accounts to verified claimants who were unaware they had forgotten assets, said a news release. The society received $4,858,925 last year in unclaimed funds from the courts, the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia, credit unions, insurance companies, various levels of government, and companies in liquidation to be reunited with the rightful owners.

"The COVID-19 pandemic upended British Columbians' financial well-being prompting many cash-strapped individuals to look for non-traditional sources of funds such as unclaimed assets," said Alena Levitz, executive director of the BC Unclaimed Property Society. "Last year there was a significant increase in the number of people reaching out to BCUPS to inquire whether they had unclaimed funds waiting for them. BCUPS received more than 200,000 website visits in 2020, a 134 percent increase over the previous year. We also received 13,834 general inquiries during the year, a 171 percent increase over 2019."

BCUPS holds unclaimed property as the custodian for rightful owners under the BC Unclaimed Property Act. The society tracks down owners of dormant accounts and maintains a free online database (unclaimedpropertybc.ca/searchp/search/) where people can search to see if they have any forgotten money waiting for them. If someone finds a dormant account in their name, they can claim the funds by completing a simple verification process that firmly establishes their identity as the rightful owner. There are no costs for BCUPS's services, and no time limit imposed to claim forgotten funds.

Most unclaimed accounts in BCUPS's database amount to between $300 and $500. The single largest unclaimed property payout by BCUPS was a $1.01-million estate made in 2019.

Burnaby Now