India unclaimed assets refers to any money or other financial asset that has been left unclaimed or inactive by the owner for an extended period. Common examples include unclaimed balances and inoperative bank accounts, missing shares and unpaid dividends, lost insurance policies, forgotten pensions and other retirement benefits.
Regulations regarding the disposition of unclaimed assets vary depending on the type of asset. Their goal is to ensure these assets are protected and ultimately reclaimed by rightful owners or heirs. In most, but not all cases, individuals may reclaim their missing assets by providing proof of identity and entitlement.
After 10 years of inactivity bank accounts are considered dormant and unclaimed, and funds are transferred to the DEAF – Depositor Education and Awareness Fund established by the RBI.
Unclaimed stocks and unpaid dividends are remitted to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF) after seven years.
Life insurance companies hold an estimated Rs 25,000 crore of unclaimed money, defined as any amount payable to a policyholder or beneficiary unclaimed six months after the due date. After 10 years, unclaimed benefits are transferred to the Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund (SCWF) of the Ministry of Social Justice.
The Employee’s Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) holds the largest cache of unclaimed money. Accounts are considered dormant and stop earning interest three years after the last contribution if no withdrawal is made. After 7 years money is transferred to Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund, where it may be reclaimed for a period of 25 years.
Note citizens of India who have lived and worked in other countries often leave behind unclaimed assets, particularly bank accounts and stock compensation paid by employers. Because owner reunification efforts are complicated by cross-border travel, a proactive claims effort must be made.