Probate: £137million in unclaimed assets by Britons – are you missing out?

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Probate can often be a complex process, and will have to be dealt with by those who are left behind. If a person has left a will, then an executor will receive a “grant of probate”, but otherwise, people will receive “letters of administration”. Dealing with someone’s estate – their property, money and possessions – can be difficult, particularly if an individual had various assets to keep track of.

As such, millions of pounds currently sit in unclaimed probate files, meaning Britons could be significantly missing out.

In 2019, the five major high street banks stated £137million of unclaimed money laid dormant in accounts for 15 years or more.

But probate experts are concerned Britons do not know enough about the money which is unclaimed.

Express.co.uk spoke to Nick Cousins, Founder and CEO of Exizent, a technology company dedicated to improving the bereavement experience, about the probate process.

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He provided further insight into the millions of pounds Britons could potentially be missing out on.

Mr Cousins explained that unclaimed probate files can arise out of a number of circumstances, including Britons moving home, or changing occupation.

It is easy to lose track of bank accounts, pension arrangements and investments throughout one’s lifetime, and never find them again.

As such, it is important for Britons to keep their finger on the pulse as much as possible to keep their estate in order. 

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However, Mr Cousins highlighted that all is not lost for tracking down lost arrangements.

Services such as mylostaccount.org, are suitable for individuals who are looking to hunt down dormant bank and savings accounts, alongside Premium Bonds which are offered by government-backed savings company, NS&I.

In addition, Mr Cousins pointed Britons towards Experian’s Unclaimed Assets Register, which outlines pensions, investments and life assurance policies which have been lost. 

Mr Cousins added: “It is issues like this that highlight the important of a joined-up solution.

“People’s lives are increasingly dispersed and varied, and as a result, performing executor work with a growing number of banks and institutions is more complex than ever.

“Without standardisation and the right tools available, the whole process takes longer than it should, causing long delays and unnecessary anguish.

“Also, things get missed, which is why there are so many unclaimed assets.”

The money a person is entitled to will lie dormant in accounts, pensions or investments until it is claimed, so the issue is not time-sensitive.

However, Britons may wish to act fast and investigate to see if they could claim. 

Mr Cousins concluded: “We believe the administrative tasks facing families after the death of a loved one should be far easier, and that modern technology solutions and services can make this a reality.

“In an era of digital communication and more accessible personal data it is possible to harness both to make managing a bereavement easier.”

Some people may wish to deal with the probate process alone, and others may want to seek help from a professional.

Either way, Mr Cousins stated, this is a personal choice which depends on the complexities of an estate.

For those looking to keep costs down, it may make sense to handle the process oneself.

However, as the scale of unclaimed assets clearly illustrates, probate complexities can arise and even lower value estates may create problems.

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