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Find money you didn't know was lost

Even the most organized can let a few details fall through the cracks, especially when relocating.

Even the most organized can let a few details fall through the cracks, especially when relocating. People forget to notify their banks, investment dealers, insurance companies and other organizations that may be holding their forgotten financial assets. Taxes and debts are often overpaid and court settlements sometimes remain uncollected.

It is not unusual for departing employees to leave behind pension entitlements or unpaid wages. Sometimes, a former employer will be able to contact you and transfer the unexpected money in pension proceeds.

When people pass away, their heirs are often left in the dark regarding undocumented accounts, insurance policies and other entitlements. This lack of planning results in millions of dollars that must by law be kept on the books until the owners are located.

Fortunately, we have a valuable tool to re-unite rightful owners to their forgotten property. In 2003, the province entered into an agreement with Vancouver Foundation to administer its unclaimed property program. The services are now provided through the British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society and controlled by the Vancouver Foundation.

Although the foundation is allowed to use a small percentage of the unclaimed funds each year for charitable purposes, the mission of the society is to "re-unite individuals with unclaimed money held by the Society while providing a centralized administration for the management of unclaimed property for organizations submitting unclaimed funds."

Visit It includes valuable information about the society, how to use the online search tool and how to claim funds that may belong to you or your family. It also includes a list of other references.

It's an exciting thing to discover money you didn't know was lost. It's also important to assure your assets don't end up on this list! One important step is to document all the details of your financial life, including account numbers, contact information of professionals, locations of valuable documents and password lists to online information.

It's also important to make your trusted family members and executors aware of the location of this information. We have developed a Confidential Records Organizer for this purpose. If you would like a copy, feel free to call me at 604-241-4357.

It's not often that you receive a buried treasure map. Take the time to dig for it!

The opinions expressed are those of Richard Vetter, BA, CFP, CLU, ChFC.

Richard is a certified financial planner and owner of WealthSmart Financial Group in Richmond, BC,