In Estatesearch’s third “Product in Focus” article, we take a look at financial asset research and why it should be done in each case when administering an estate.
Investigating the finances of a deceased person is a large part of an estate administrator’s job during the estate administration process and is one of their primary and most urgent tasks. But did you know there would be up to £ 1.2bn of unclaimed assets in UK bank accounts, a figure that is growing every year?
In addition to this staggering figure, data from a 2016 FSA report revealed that a snapshot of ‘missing’ retirement accounts resulted in the loss of £ 200bn of unclaimed pension funds, while over £ 3 billion is in national savings and investments, still repatriated to its rightful owners.
How is such an amount of money hidden in financial institutions and why does unclaimed money not always show up when administering the estate?
Finances can be missed and unclaimed for many reasons, but the main causes tend to be unreported changes of address, account stoppages, and inadequate record keeping.
According to a 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics study, an average person has eleven jobs in their lifetime. While contributing to a pension fund in each of these jobs, pensions from a previous job can be extremely easy to ignore, especially in the age of digital communication where accounts are often managed online and where it is little or no documentation sent. In a 2017 Financial Times Adviser report, research conducted by Aegon found that one in five people with multiple retirements lost track of at least one of them, which is at least 21%. of the people questioned in their survey, a situation of great concern. 6.6 million people.
Along with this, research on UK moving habits has shown that we move up to nine times in our lifetime and every time someone moves financial institutions expect an update. with a new address for communication purposes. In the chaos and stress of moving, it can be easy to forget to let each institution know about your move. Failure to do so, however, can result in the loss of many financial assets.
A third area of risk is demonstrated by the number of accounts a person chooses not to withdraw, deposit or use a specific account on. As a result, they are classified as inactive. HSBC states that “an inactive or dormant account is an account that has not been used for at least 6 months. Inevitably, since these accounts are not checked regularly, they present a significant risk of being involved in a fraudulent transaction.
What are the implications for personal representatives if they do not locate all of the assets in the estate?
Executors, or personal representatives, are responsible for an estate “in perpetuity” and are responsible for finding the beneficiaries of an estate and confirming that those beneficiaries are receiving what is owed to them. Executors must locate all the assets of an estate so that they do not disadvantage the beneficiaries and must be able to to prove that they have carried out a thorough search of all financial institutions where assets may have been held by the deceased. The implications of not doing so include, but are not limited to: HMRC fines for underestimated inheritance tax, lack of financial viability for estate administration professionals to reopen cases if the value of assets fail is low and additional costs for executors incurred for having to rework and submit estate documents.
The solution – Finding financial assets
Estatesearch is now the largest provider of financial asset research in the UK and has pioneered new data and technologies to help private client practitioners identify assets easily and efficiently, through our award-winning platform. Our financial asset research is an integral part of our financial profile service which provides executors, beneficiaries, MPs and lawyers with peace of mind through comprehensive research that mitigates the risks and costs of missing assets.
It is essential to carry out a financial asset search on every administered estate, as the large amount of unclaimed money in UK financial institutions demonstrates that the deceased’s families or executors are now tracking where all assets are or on the existence of some of them. .
How Estatesearch can help
Our Financial Profile Service includes our financial asset search, which quickly identifies estate assets while mitigating risk. We notify and actively research a full list of banks, building societies, investment managers, share registers, pension providers and insurers of the deceased and notify the private client practitioner when an institution financial reports a “match”. Responses and updates can be viewed in real time on our portal and include copies of all relevant correspondence, reference numbers and contact details.
Our financial asset search offers an unmatched level of transparent due diligence, a clear audit trail of all reasonable steps taken to locate the estate’s assets and a fast and efficient search with a fully detailed final report delivered on day 30. .
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This article has been submitted for publication by Estatesearch as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.