June 09, 2023

Is there money out there with your name on it?

By Brenda Spiering

Millions of dollars in unclaimed cash is sitting in the coffers of banks, pension plan administrators and insurance companies. Some of this money could be yours.

Do you have a long-forgotten bank account somewhere? A pension plan or insurance benefit that you never claimed? Maybe you inherited a secret fortune? If you moved and forgot to provide your new address, there may be money waiting for you somewhere.

As of May 2022, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) had a total of $1.4 billion in uncashed cheques on its books. This represents 8.9 million outstanding cheques. And that’s not all! Pension plan administrators, life insurance companies and public trustees also hold unclaimed assets.

Some of this money could be yours. Here’s how to check.

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1. Long-lost bank accounts

It’s all too easy to switch banks without properly closing out all your old accounts. Canadian banks are legally required to send out written notification to account holders after two years of inactivity and again after three years. However, after 10 years, unclaimed balances are transferred to the Bank of Canada.

Want to reclaim lost funds? Search the Bank of Canada’s Unclaimed Properties Office (UPO) registry.

2. Forgotten pension plans

Tracing a pension plan is simple. Simply contact your former employer and ask to speak to the pension plan administrator. If your company was bought out or merged with another firm, contact the new owner company.

It’s also possible that your pension plan was terminated and the money disbursed. In this case, contact your provincial pension regulator. They will be able to tell you where the unclaimed funds are being held. Contact info is available from the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities.

3. Unclaimed insurance benefits

There are several ways you may be entitled to a payment from a life insurance company. For example, you may be the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. You may also be eligible to receive cash, shares or dividends. This could be the case if you have a policy with a company that demutualized (converted to a corporation).

You can find out by contacting the life insurance company directly. Have you forgotten the name of the company? You can use the policy search service offered by the OmbudService for Life and Health Insurance.

4. Old stock certificates

Did you find an old stock certificate in your grandparents’ attic? It may be worth more than you think! Even if you don’t recognize the name on the certificate, don’t forget that many companies change names.

To find out if the certificate is still valid, visit the Canadian Securities Administrators website. And even if the company is long gone, the certificate may have become a collector’s item. Ask an online antique dealer to appraise your find.

5. An unknown inheritance

Did you move several times and lose touch with your family? You could be an heir and not know it! The executors of a parent’s estate may have been unable to track you down. Or a loved one may have died without a will, and you’re entitled to a share of their estate.

Contact your province’s Public Guardian and Trustee office to find out how to file an estate claim. 


At the end of this process, you may not end up with a windfall. However, at least you may recover some of the money you are owed.


This article is meant to provide general information only. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada does not provide legal, accounting, taxation, or other professional advice. Please seek advice from a qualified professional, including a thorough examination of your specific legal, accounting and tax situation.


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