Do you know where are all your pensions are?

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If you’re at the stage of tidying up your financial affairs and writing a will, you might want to spend a little time checking you don’t have ‘lost’ money. Two in five of us have pensions, savings accounts, investments and child trust funds, that we have simply forgotten or lost access to. This ‘lost’ money accounts for between £19 and £37 billion. And to be fair, banks and pension schemes are eager for us to rediscover these.

Remember that job you worked at for 6 months? The pension might be worth more than you think. Remember the savings account you set up, and then forget to change the address when you moved? The savings might have increased nicely with accumulated interest.

Why do assets become lost?

There are many reasons, including:

  1. Moving house and forgetting to tell the bank or provider your new address. People often focus on the big pensions and most obvious savings. Smaller bank accounts or pensions can easily get lost, but if they’re older can benefit from accrued interest.
  2. Changes in provider – takeovers, mergers, change of address. It’s tricky enough to keep up with your own personal life changes, let alone providers’.
  3. Your partner might pass away and forget to tell you about assets. If you pass, they in turn become lost to your children.
  4. You might simply forget about them. We lead long and complicated lives.
  5. You might have ignored emails or messages from pension companies, asking you to update your details. Concern about scams can prevent policy holders from clicking on links and registering online.
  6. You’ve got married or divorced. In the excitement of the big day, or the difficulties in divorcing, you focus on the big stuff, and those smaller tasks might fall off the bottom of your To Do list.
  7. And finally, someone might have taken out the policy for you. Grandparents, parents, godparents – they may have set something up on your birth, but details may not have been shared.

Is it really worth it?

If you put £100 into a savings account in 1990, and it offered 5% interest each year, it would be worth £525. And whilst the effort of tracking down this money might seem too much, if it doesn’t go to you, where will it go? Absorbed into bank profits or government agencies.

Consider it a bit like genealogy, but instead of lost family members, you’re finding lost money!

How do you trace old pension schemes?

The Pension Tracing Service on GOV.UK is a free service that traces a pension you’ve lost track of, even if you don’t have the contact details of the pension provider. It will only tell you the contact details of the pension’s administrator. You then need to contact the pension administrator to find out whether you have a pension with them. If you do, you can then ask the administrator its value and ask for it to be paid out.

Grab a cup of coffee, get your laptop out and start writing some letters. It might be the most profitable (and satisfying) thing you do this week.

https://www.gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details

For help with lifetime planning and ensuring your estate passes to those you love when you die, contact our legal accountant, Sally Houghton, an expert in this field with over 25 years of experience.

Call Sally on 01535 613662 or by email at sally.houghton@awbclaw.co.uk

3 May 2024

Further reading:

Where do you keep your will?

Long waits and frequent rejections – the joy of powers of attorney

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