Simply put

Is there money out there with your name on it?

By Brenda Spiering, Editor, BrighterLife.ca

Comments (1)

Image of a woman happy to receive a letter regarding forgotten funds.Is there a long-forgotten bank account with your name on it? Or a pension plan or insurance payment you never collected? If you’ve ever moved and neglected to provide all your former contacts with your new address, there could be unclaimed money out there that belongs to you. You could even be the heir to a secret fortune.

As of the end of December, 2011, the Bank of Canada reported it had approximately 1.3 million unclaimed balances, worth some $465 million, on its books. Pension administrators, life insurance companies and public trustees all have similar stories of unclaimed accounts.

Here’s how to find out if some of that unclaimed cash is yours:

1. Long-lost bank accounts

It’s all too easy to switch banks without properly closing out all of your old accounts. While Canadian banks are legally required to send out written notification to account holders after two years of inactivity and again after five years, unclaimed balances are transferred after 10 years to the Bank of Canada. To reclaim lost funds, search the Bank of Canada’s registry of unclaimed bank accounts.

2. Forgotten pension plans

The best way to track down a missing pension fund is to contact your former employer and ask to speak to the pension administrator. If your company has been bought out or merged with another firm, contact the new firm. Or, if you discover your pension plan has been terminated and the money disbursed, you can find out where unclaimed funds are being held by contacting your provincial pension regulator. Contact info is available from the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities.

3. Insurance payments

There are several ways you may be entitled to a payment from a life insurance company. You may be the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. Or, perhaps you are eligible to receive cash, shares or dividends as a result of having owned a policy with a company that demutualized (converted from a mutual company owned by policyholders to a public company owned by shareholders). You can find out by contacting the life insurance company directly. Or if you don’t know the name of the insurance provider, you can use the policy search service offered by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance OmbudService.

4. Old stock certificates

Found an old stock certificate in your grandparents’ attic? It may be worth more than you think. Even if you don’t recognize the name on the certificate, remember that many companies change names. Information on how to find out if an old stock certificate is still valid is available from the Ontario Securities Commission. But even if you discover the company is long dead, the certificate may still have value as a collectible. You can check out its potential value by consulting an online antique dealer and appraiser.

5. Unknown inheritance

If you’ve moved a great deal and lost touch with your family, you could be an unaware heir. Perhaps the executors of a relative’s estate were unable to track you down. Or maybe you have a relative who died without a will and you believe you are entitled to a share of his or her estate. In Ontario, find out how to make an estate claim through the Ministry of the Attorney General. In other provinces, search on the office of the provincial “Public Guardian and Trustee.”

Searching for lost cash may not bring you a windfall, but at least you may recover some of the money you are owed.

Got more ideas on how to find missing money?  If so, share your comments below.

Check out more Simply put smart money tips.


Were you a Sun Life policyholder in 1998?
If so, you may have common shares or cash waiting for you. Find out if you are eligible.

Stay connected

Get more FREE tips and tools on money, health and family

Sign up for the monthly Brighter Life newsletter.

Enter your email address:

Learn more

Will your choices help you reach your financial goals?

Try our Financial habits quiz.

Take action

Are you on track to meet your financial and retirement planning goals?

It's never too early or too late to start!

For a FREE review of your financial plan: Talk to an Advisor.

Dorett Nwakwesi on

I had a policy with my company

Add a new comment:

Note: Please be sure to read our commenting policy and terms and conditions for this site. We reserve the right to delete any comments that we view to be in violation of our policy. The name you provide will appear next to your comment. Thank you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Advisor Match
Free newsletter subscription
Sun Life is Reader's Digest most-trusted life insurance brand

Connect to your Brighter Life