Prepare an Inventory of Your Assets
Does your family and/or estate trustee know what assets you own and where they are located?
If you answered no, you could be setting your loved ones and/or estate trustee up for unnecessary stress and uncertainty upon your passing. Not only will they be faced with the emotional turmoil of your death, but they may also have to undertake the daunting task of trying to piece together your financial information including your assets, debts, and insurance plan details, all of which are readily available to you today. This process is becoming more and more challenging for families and estate trustees as organizations, such as financial institutions, are increasingly going paperless with account information only accessible online. As such, it is possible that some of your assets may never be discovered, even with diligent investigation.
What will happen if your family or estate trustee never discover certain accounts? According to the Bank of Canada website when there has been no owner activity in relation to a financial balance for a period of 10 years, and the owner cannot be contacted by the institution holding it, the balance is turned over to the Bank of Canada, which acts as custodian on behalf of the owner.
If the amount in the unclaimed account is less than $1,000, the Bank of Canada will hold the balance for thirty years. For balances of $1,000 or more the Bank of Canada will hold the amount for 100 years. However, if after these prescribed holding periods the balances remain unclaimed, the Bank of Canada will transfer the funds to the Receiver General of Canada.
A recent article published by the Toronto Star indicates that the Bank of Canada currently holds around $1 billion from bank accounts and Canada Savings Bonds, and that experts estimate unclaimed assets across the country could top $4 billion to $7 billion.
As it is unlikely your wish that your assets to go to the Canadian Government rather than your family and intended beneficiaries, it is important that you take the time to create an inventory of your financial accounts, debts such as credit cards or loans, insurance policies, real property, safety deposit boxes, storage lockers and any items of personal property you feel are particularly valuable. Such preparation will also save your family and/or estate trustee hours unnecessary investigation.
Desjardin has put together a checklist titled “Personal Inventory of Assets and Important Documents” that you can use to get you started which can be accessed here.
Take a day (or two) to record this information and then provide copies to your family, your lawyer and/or a trusted third party. As, this information may need to be updated from time to time, it is wise to put a reminder in your calendar to review it annually to ensure it is up to date. Your family and estate trustee will thank you!
Thank you for reading,