Many people may have forgotten a bank account with a few dollars in it, but there’s a nearly $2-million estate sitting unclaimed in British Columbia, the BC Unclaimed Property Society (BCUPS) says.
In total, there’s more than $149 million sitting unclaimed in dormant accounts in B.C., the non-profit announced. That figure doesn’t include dormant bank accounts, which are the domain of the Bank of Canada. Instead, it represents unclaimed funds from courts, provincially regulated financial firms and other sources, such as inactive credit union accounts, outstanding insurance payments, and proceeds from courts, pension funds and estates.
The unclaimed funds under the BCUPS administration includes a $1.9-million estate that “the legal heirs are unaware of,” the organization said. That estate represents the BCUPS’ largest unclaimed account and is almost double the agency’s single largest payout of $1.01 million in 2019.
Last year, the BCUPS returned over $1 million to the rightful owners of forgotten funds, the non-profit reported. The BCUPS also received almost $4.9 million in new unclaimed funds and reported a surge in inquiries about missing or lost money.
“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 BCUPS, in a release.
“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,” Levitz added. “BCUPS received more than 200,000 website visits in 2020, a 134% increase over the previous year. We also received 13,834 general inquiries during the year, a 171% increase over 2019.”
Last year, the agency, which also allocates a portion of inactive funds to charity each year, also provided almost $7 million to the Vancouver Foundation to address community and social issues, including providing relief to local charities that were affected by the pandemic.
In total, the agency has returned more than $18.5 million in forgotten funds since the program began in 2003.