Finance

Your Money: Unclaimed investor money – Where it ends up and how to get it back

After 25 years, the funds will undergo ‘escheatment’ where funds cannot be reclaimed by the account holder.

By AP Singh & Manish Sharma

Do you remember all your past investments, insurance policies you may have, number of bank accounts, any other investment product bought, and the money you had invested in these? If your answer is in the negative, then it might be possible that the money lying unclaimed may have moved to some welfare schemes.

Keep records handy
As per the data available in the public domain, more than Rs 82,000 crore of investors’ wealth is lying unclaimed in neglected and lost investments. Unclaimed deposits are languishing in inactive bank accounts, unclaimed maturity proceedings of insurance policies in insurance companies, unclaimed money in mutual funds and stocks, and large amounts of money locked up in inactive provident fund accounts.

How to get unclaimed money
If your bank account is not in operation for 10 years or more, then the money will be treated as unclaimed money and will be transferred to Depositor Education and Awareness Fund (DEAF). As per the RBI regulations, every bank must show the details of unclaimed accounts on its website. You can check the details of your inoperative account or the unclaimed amount transferred to DEAF on the website and then visit the branch of the bank with a duly filled claim form, deposit receipts, and know your customer (KYC) documents to claim your money. Although you can visit any branch of the bank, it is best to visit the home branch if the claim is related to the old account.

If you are the nominee or legal heir of the account holder, you need to approach the bank with the deposit receipts, identity proof, and a copy of the death certificate of the account holder. The payment will be released by the bank after verifying the genuineness of the claim. Banks can claim a refund from the DEAF account of RBI after payment to the client or his/her legal heirs.

Unclaimed deposits in PPF, post office savings accounts, EPF, RD accounts, and similar other accounts are transferred to Senior Citizen’s Welfare Fund (SCWF) after 10 years. In insurance, if the money stays unclaimed at the end of 10 years from the due date, it is transferred to the SCWF. Beneficiaries will be able to claim the money under their policies up to 25 years from the date of transfer of the same to the SCWF. After 25 years, the funds will undergo ‘escheatment’ where funds cannot be reclaimed by the account holder.

Create a will
Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF) holds unclaimed dividends and unpaid money from mutual funds and stocks that have remained unclaimed for seven or more years. Investors / depositors whose shares, unpaid dividends, matured deposits or debentures, etc. have been transferred to IEPF can reclaim their refund by registering themselves on the IEPF website: www.iepf.gov.in.

To make sure that your hard-earned money is put to the right use and goes into the right hands after you, you should always keep your family members informed about investments and finances. Make sure you have a nominee for your investments, create a will to avoid any future litigation, and keep your financial information updated whenever there is a change.

Singh is director and Sharma is assistant professor, Amity School of Insurance, Banking & Actuarial Science, Amity University

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