Inheritances are disappearing for good without a trace as more and more people bank online or via mobile apps – with loved ones unable to locate savings when they die.
Cash held in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can also be lost forever, with no way of knowing where it is locked up.
Over the years, millions of pounds of financial assets are lost because people do not include them in their wills. The problem continues to grow in today’s society, with many opting to conduct their financial affairs digitally – leaving no physical paper trail for families to sort through once they’re gone.
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The Daily Express reports that nearly £5bn of inherited wealth is unclaimed, according to new research by dormant asset holders – The Reclaim Fund. This is a substantial sum that people will never find if it is stored only on apps, online trading platforms and offshore cryptocurrency accounts.
Bank accounts, savings, stocks, cryptos, and other sources of wealth through investing can prove difficult to track when people pass away — and in some cases, loved ones may not even know they exist at all, said Jenny Walsh, who is a specialist partner. in wills and probate at Osbornes Law.
Indeed, the person who owned and managed the financial sums never revealed where they existed, or how to find them. Jenny also added that families are increasingly looking for help finding assets at death – in a desperate hunt for lost wealth.
She said: “With an increasing number of people having digital assets and not receiving any documents in the mail, more and more people are having difficulty finding the assets of a deceased when they die.”
While there are some ways people can track down these assets, the process can be extremely expensive – costing parties hundreds and hundreds of pounds. The stress and anxiety of the situation are also problematic, with families waiting to find out if the money can actually be found.
The task is also made more difficult when individuals have overseas assets, as some platforms operate in completely different jurisdictions. Often the money can be worth a small fortune, but people just don’t know the exact figure, or how to get it.
Assets overseas are difficult to trace unless you have some idea of where the account is, Jenny warned: “You have to have a connection to a particular country, like knowing that the deceased is there. had a bank account.
“I have dealt with estates where a considerable amount of money has potentially been lost because the family has an idea that the deceased was wealthy but no idea where the money might be. The procedures can be confusing to navigate and there may be tax implications, eg foreign inheritance tax.
Accessing online savings or investments can also be difficult, with many hiding in apps on people’s phones. Jenny, added, “Family members often don’t have their phone password or an account reference number.”
She summed up that the best way to lose assets completely is to use the old-fashioned method of keeping a diary of assets with your will – as “this will allow a personal representative to find relevant details such as numbers of account”.
You also need to keep it up to date, but most people don’t. Jenny continued: “Your will is one of the most important documents you will ever write because without an asset journal your loved ones could lose the wealth you have worked so hard to accumulate over your lifetime.”
Daniel Cane, managing director of financial asset research firm Inheritance Data, added: “The amount of unclaimed money is nothing short of mind-boggling and life-changing for some of these bereaved families and beneficiaries who are owed. .”