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$177M in unclaimed funds waiting to be reunited with B.C. owners

The B.C. Unclaimed Property Society says the largest individual unclaimed amount is $1.9 million
(Black Press file photo)

Have you ever put on an old winter coat to find there was forgotten money inside? Well, imagine finding out your old credit union account had some money left over and is waiting for you to claim it.

The B.C. Unclaimed Property Society (BCUPS) works every day to help reunite British Columbians with forgotten assets. First formed in 2003, BCUPS has returned $19.2 million to the rightful owners. Today, the society is stewarding $177 million in unclaimed assets — including a $1.9 million estate that the legal heirs are unaware of.

In B.C., the Society is the legal custodian of unclaimed assets. Every year, they receive “dormant financial assets” from the courts, the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia, credit unions, insurance companies, various levels of government, companies, and other organizations. Those organizations must make “reasonable efforts” to track down the owners, but if they can’t, the funds go to BCUPS.

For funds over $200, BCUPS makes an additional effort to find the rightful owner.

Despite their best efforts, it isn’t always possible for the Society to track down each individual. To help the process along, the Society established an online database that is publicly searchable. If you find unclaimed assets in your name, BCUPS will work with you to verify that you are the rightful owner and return the funds to you.

“BCUPS saw a significant increase in online inquiries for unclaimed property over the last two years from British Columbians financially impacted by the pandemic lockdown,” said Alena Levitz, executive director of BCUPS. “For many cash-strapped British Columbians, being reunited with their unclaimed funds provided welcome financial relief during an unprecedented period of economic adversity. The availability of unclaimed funds also helps support numerous social programs and charities across the province.”

The Society is registered as a non-profit. Every year, a portion of the unclaimed funds are transferred to the Vancouver Foundation for charitable purposes. However, BCUPS keeps investments to ensure that claimants can always receive their funds regardless of how much is transferred for charity. Since BCUPS was founded in 2003, $54.65 million has been transferred to the Vancouver Foundation

In 2021, BCUPS received $4 million in unclaimed funds from holders, returned $717,209 to verified claimants and transferred $6.24 million to the Vancouver Foundation for charitable purposes.

READ MORE: 53% of Canadians teetering the brink of insolvency: survey


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