It turns out that billions of unclaimed financial assets are lying in old UK bank accounts, pensions and investments. Taking 10 minutes out of your day to check whether you have forgotten accounts could make you £1000s - so it’s well worth checking!
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In the run-up to Christmas, people are often looking for helpful tips and tricks to cover costs over the festive period. Martin Lewis’ website, moneysavingexpert.com, has recently released this new hack. So, here’s what an unclaimed asset is, and how to check whether you have any.
What an unclaimed asset is
These assets can come in the form of bank accounts, building society accounts, Premium Bonds, pensions, investments and insurance policies. They are unclaimed or ‘lost’ because they have either been forgotten about by the owner or they are under the name of a deceased relative. It’s thought that £50 billion is lying in unclaimed assets… Because people don’t check!
Banks often take a while to flag an account that has been forgotten. Sometimes they notice because letters or statements are being returned to the bank as the owner has changed address or died. Otherwise, an account can be flagged after a long period of inactivity - but this can take up to three of five years for savings accounts.
How to check whether you have any lost assets
First thing’s first: you do not need to pay a company to do this for you. Lewis is very clear on this:
A growing number of companies offer to track down your old assets for a fee. IGNORE THEM. You can usually easily do it yourself without forking out any cash.
Instead, you can trace any unclaimed money lying in old current and savings accounts and Premium Bonds by supplying your personal details and filling in just one form. This has been created by UK Finance, the Building Societies Association and National Savings & Investments. You can find it here.
Then, you just have to wait! Banks and building societies say they should respond within three months while NS&I should only take one month. If you discover that you have lost Premium Bonds, and you got your holder’s number or NS&I number, you can check the NS&I Premium Bonds prize checker to see whether you have any prizes to claim. According to Lewis:
There's more than £79 million in unclaimed Premium Bond prizes, ranging from £25 to £100,000.
For insurance policies, your first port of call is to phone the provider, if you have the name of the company. If you don’t have this, your best bet is to use a catch-all service such as Gretel which will search for lost accounts on your behalf.
As for pensions, you can look through old paperwork or contact your former employer’s HR department to check whether you were part of a pension scheme that you don’t know about. If that brings you no luck, try the Pension Tracing Service. It’s a simple and free tool that will help you find an up-to-date contact address for the scheme you are looking for.
Deceased relatives' accounts
If a close relative has passed away without taking their pension, you could be eligible for their fund also, so this is something worth checking.
This can also be the case for any of the above searches. When you let the account/investment provider know, they will contact you to confirm your identity and work with you to make sure the money gets to the right person.
It’s definitely worth checking out, as the testimonies prove. Richard wrote to Lewis’ team in April 2023 to explain that a forgotten pension scheme with the pension provider now known as Aviva had ‘reached a value of £137,749’.
For more details on how to carry out this simple check, head over to moneysavingexpert.com.