Week 4 of the Money Makeover Challenge
Last year I received a letter telling me that there was ‘lost money’ of my husband’s out there – $240 to be exact. They were dividend cheques that had never been banked. The company who sent the letter would kindly do the leg work for me to claim this money – for a fee of course.
Great – I thought. I will do the leg work myself and hunt down this $240.
And that is where the idea ended…. The paperwork sat on my desk for 7 months before I finally decided it was time to act.
The mission – to find that unclaimed money!
What I ended up uncovering though exceeded all expectations! (and perhaps gives an indication of how we lost track of our money admin for a while there!).
If you think you have checked for lost money before, bear with me. I thought I had too. But I had only just scratched the surface. The databases are also updated constantly, so check back in every now and then.
There is currently $1.1 billion in unclaimed money in Australia waiting to be claimed. So when I say unclaimed money, I’m talking about lost bank accounts, shares, dividends, salaries and wages, cheques, trust money, proceeds of sales, investments, deceased estates and life insurance policies. The money is considered lost when you fail to update your details.
There is a Commonwealth database, and separate State databases.
What you need to do:
1. Check the Commonwealth Database
The Commonwealth database specifically lists unclaimed money related to lost bank accounts, shares, investments and life insurance policies.
Unclaimed money received by ASIC is transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia Consolidated Revenue Fund but is available to be claimed at any time by the rightful owner and there is no time limit on claims.
Bank accounts become unclaimed after 7 years if the account is inactive (no deposits or withdrawals). Life insurance policies become unclaimed 7 years after the policy matures and is not claimed.
Check out if you have any unclaimed money on the Commonwealth register here via the Government’s MoneySmart website.
Now this is as far I previously went. Nothing showed up for me or my husband on this register, so I thought there was nothing to be claimed. Wrong!
2. Check the State Government databases
State governments hold unclaimed money from deceased estates, share dividends, salaries and wages, cheques, trust money, over-payments and proceeds of sale.
Given we currently live in NSW, I checked the NSW register and low and behold, there was the missing $240 from the letter (which had morphed in to $399 over the past 7 months with even more unclaimed dividend cheques… ooops!).
It occurred to me that I should probably check the registers of States that we have previously lived in. No luck there. And just to be complete, I then went on to check all other State registers.
Low and behold, there was lost money being held in two States where we have never lived. But the companies whose cheques we never banked were registered there. I found another $664!
So make sure you check ALL registers, even if you have never lived in that State or Territory.
Here are the links to all the State registers (warning – some a far more user friendly than others!)
NSW – NSW Trustee and Guardian
Northern Territory – Northern Territory Office of the Public Trustee
Queensland – Public Trustee of Queensland
South Australia – Public Trustee South Australia
Tasmania – Public Trustee Tasmania
Victoria – State Trustees Victoria
Western Australia – Public Trustee Western Australia
3. Check for unclaimed wages
If you think you may be owed wages, you can check on the FairWork Umbudsman website. Fairwork Australia may have done an audit on a previous employer to ensure they were paying the correct wages. If they were underpaying you, and have not been able to contact you, there may be unpaid wages waiting for you to be claimed.
If you have had several jobs over the years, particularly casual or part time, it may be worth doing this check.
Nothing for us here.
4. If you uncover unclaimed money, start filling out the paperwork!
This was not a fun part of the process. Be aware that each register has a different process for claiming money and different paperwork that you will need to gather. Details will be available from each register, but be prepared to fill out paperwork and get certified copies of documents that prove addresses and possibly ownership of the asset.
SUMMING IT UP
I checked every State and Commonwealth register. The total was $1,073! INSANE!
The surprise was definitely the fact that money stood unclaimed in States I had never even lived in.
How long did it take me?
This was a time consuming one… primarily because we have lived in 9 different addresses over the past 15 or so years. Finding paperwork to prove our address was tricky for those claims that went back many years. The paperwork was a little fiddly (given each State was different – there were three States requiring paperwork) and some required Certified Copies of documents.
All in all, I would say 5 or so hours.
Searching was fun. The paperwork was a tad fiddly and painful! Worth it in my case, given the total amount. Perhaps not is it were only a small amount – but that’s your call.
Not much time?
Start with the searches. You could search all registers in 15 minutes or less.
Check all registers, even if you have never lived in that State or Territory.
And if you have claims for different States, keep track of the different requirements in terms of paperwork.
Total money saved?
NSW Register – $399
Victorian Register – $494
Western Australian Register – $170
Total money claimed – $1,073
So why not spend 15 minutes and have some fun searching out any lost money. And if you have a win, or if you have any tips, I’d love you to share below!
Here’s to living your rich life!