What options are available when considering an asset & liability search?
Executors, Administrators, Deputies and Attorneys are all under an obligation to identify and secure all of the assets and liabilities in an estate as part of the estate administration process or when managing property and financial affairs.
Visiting the person’s property, reviewing personal papers, postal redirects and enquiries of the family have long been important parts of the due diligence process. All private client professionals will be familiar with the ubiquitous ‘carrier bag’ of personal files to be searched, or in more extreme circumstances the properties of hoarders holding towers of boxes crammed with paper. However, due to on-line banking and paperless billing we’re increasingly seeing reports of a lack of paper evidence.
Nevertheless, with an estimated minimum value of £20 billion of unclaimed assets in dormant accounts alone there is evidence that not all accounts are being routinely identified. So what are some of the options available to help identify estate assets and liabilities?
My Lost Account
This is a free service helping people reunite with lost and dormant bank accounts. While it can help identify estate assets it is important to note the search is limited to lost or dormant accounts. This means account provider must have first lost contact with the customer and then failed to establish contact before any account will appear in this search, a process which could take years. Notably, My Lost Account do not recommend this search be used by Executors for this very reason.
Experian ‘Unclaimed Asset Register’ (UAR)
Experian is the largest Credit Reference Agency in the UK and hosts the comprehensive Unclaimed Asset Register (UAR) which can be searched for a small fee. Experian work with a range of financial institutions to help them trace the owners of lost accounts, and any assets that can’t be re-united are held in the UAR. This database contains details of lost accounts held with pension providers, insurers, financial institutions and listed companies (including shares). While comprehensive, it is important again to note that only lost or dormant accounts are likely to be identified.
Cost: £25 + VAT
Death Notification Service (DNS)
Launched in 2018 the Death Notification Service is a free service hosted by Equiniti allowing anyone to submit the details of a persons death. Once details are submitted several member banking institutions are notified and will update their records accordingly, if the notifier is entitled to deal with the estate they will receive appropriate correspondence. The service is a good starting point and can help identify live accounts, not just lost or dormant. However, notification is restricted to 18 brands owned by the 7 member institutions who receive notifications.
Estatesearch: Financial Profile Service
Understanding the importance to professionals of ensuring you’ve identified all assets and liabilities to meet legal obligations and duty of care, we designed our Financial Profile Service. Our search includes;
- Credit Reference Agency Data; real time financial data sourced from over 600 organisations including open and closed current accounts, credit cards, mortgages & utilities.
- Enhanced Notification Service; to directly notify 150+ banks, building societies, share registrars, pension providers and insurers and confirm the presence of an account or profile.
- Anti-fraud measures to protect clients’ accounts against criminals targeting vulnerable people.
All designed to catch live, on-line, lost and dormant accounts for the most comprehensive and efficient search available in the market.
Cost: £155 + VAT
If you would like more information on any of the above or for an informal discussion about how we might be able to help you and your clients, please feel free to contact us.