There are literally billions of pounds worth of unclaimed money sloshing around in Britain’s financial institutions. It’s worth taking a little bit of time to think whether some of it might belong to you!
Here’s what you need to look at.
Your childhood savings
How many of us had savings accounts when we were young? Those blue Post Office savings books for example? Where is yours now? Is there any money in your account?
What about Premium Bonds? You may not have appreciated your £5 Premium Bond from your distant relative at the time – but where is it now? (You might even have won a prize!)
Have you lost a bank account?
Amazingly there are millions of pounds lying in ‘dormant’ bank accounts. Whilst financial institutions are obliged to try and track you down, if you have changed address several times, they may have no alternative but to mark your account as ‘lost’.
Fortunately, help is at hand. There is a service which was set up by the British Bankers Association, the Building Society Association and National Savings & Investments. The website MyLostAccount.org.uk will run you through the process.
Old life insurance policies
Before the ISA age, insurance policies that had a savings element were a very popular method of building up long term investment – especially in the 80’s and 90’s. These may have been marketed as savings plans, insurance plans and/or endowment plans.
If you are one of the people that took out one of these policies and failed to keep up your payments, the policy would have ‘lapsed’. However, a ‘lapsed’ policy can have a value, and there are thousands of forgotten insurance policies in the system that have cash values that their owners are unfortunately unaware of.
If you can remember the name of the insurance company, a quick call and some security questions will confirm whether you have a positive cash balance.
Keep track of your pension schemes
There are a number of reasons why it is difficult to keep track of pension schemes:
- “Mañana Syndrome”. Retirement seems a long time away – it can be difficult to have a sense of urgency about something which can be put off until tomorrow/next week.
- Part of the pension problem in the UK is that many people do not understand how their pension schemes work, so there is very little motivation to sit down and try and sort out your pension plans of an evening…
- Like the Life Insurance example above, you may have started a Personal Pension Plan a while ago, stopped paying your premiums, and forgotten about it.
- Some people work for companies and are not even aware that they are part of the company pension scheme (especially if they are not paying into it themselves).
- If you have moved jobs several times, you may have picked up several company pension schemes along the way – which can make life very confusing.
If you think you may have a forgotten pension scheme, you can contact The Pension Tracing Service, which is a free service with over 200,000 pension schemes on its’ database.
You will not be able to access the funds until you are over 55 (under current UK pension legislation), however, even a small forgotten pension pot can make a significant difference to your retirement.
An average of £68 million a year is not claimed by winning ticket holders. Enough said.
Henrietta Oxlade is an Independent Financial Planner with Radcliffe & Newlands and MyFamilyClub’s in-house finance sage! She has been advising individual clients since March 1988, which is why many of her clients consider her part of the family. If you want to contact Henrietta, email us on [email protected] and we’ll put you in touch.