Do You Have Unclaimed Assets?

“Some people live quite private lives and they die unexpectedly and people don’t even know to look,” said Darren Jack, chairman of a task force for the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization.

blog 1 tld picWhile no one likes to look into the mirror and face their own mortality, admitting its inevitability allows us to take steps to ensure our wishes are clear, understood, and carried out to the maximum extent possible, with the least cost.  In other words, ensuring you have a clear, valid and effective will that articulates both the letter and spirit of your wishes, appointing an Executor who has both the skills and the time to carry them out, and providing your Executor with an inventory of your assets and obligations (including where they are located and how they can be accessed) are critical elements to achieving your wishes.

Having your affairs in order will allow your Executor to wrap up the details of your estate in the fastest possible timeframe, with the least amount of confusion and complexity, and maximize the value of your estate to be distributed among your beneficiaries. Even in the best-case scenario, it will take a minimum of 18 months and hundreds of hours to accomplish.

The time required is dependent on factors beyond the Executor’s control, which I will explain in another posting. However without a starting point your Executor must develop a knowledge of your financial affairs based on the documents you leave behind.

According to the Bank of Canada, there is currently more than $500 million of unclaimed assets transferred from Canadian financial institutions to their safe keeping.

That money belongs to somebody, but unless your Executor knows where it is and how to access it, it could well end up in the Government of Canada’s General Revenue.

A recent Globe & Mail article estimated the total amount of unclaimed assets between $4 and $7 billion.

In subsequent blogs we’ll discuss HOW to get you affairs in order but in summary, here are the highlights of WHY you should get your affairs in order:

  • To ensure the letter and the spirit of your wishes are fulfilled
  • To allow your legacy to unfold
  • To assist your Executor in undertaking their duties and responsibilities
  • To minimize the amount of time is required for your Executor to wrap up your estate
  • To ensure your beneficiaries receive the maximum value from your estate while minimizing the cost associated with forensic accounting, legal fees, accounting and tax accounting and other professional services
  • Because it’s the right thing to do!

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