You may have heard of situations where an individual has stored money in a deposit scheme or invested in the shares of a company and completely forgotten to claim the benefits for years. In India, unclaimed financial investments form a big part of the money lying in banks, other finance companies, and insurance companies.
The heirs of the account holder either have no knowledge of the account's existence or the details of the account are misplaced. The financial institutions also fail to trace the holders due to reasons like change in address or contact numbers.
You should know that if the accounts are inactive or inoperative for over 10 years, these are moved from the financial institution to the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) Depositor Education and Awareness Fund Scheme, as per the law. In case of unclaimed maturity amount of a traditional insurance policy, the money is moved to Senior Citizen Welfare Fund (SCWF) after 10 years.
However, the good news is that as the owner of the asset or their legal heir (in case of demise) can still claim the deposit after 10 years.
How to claim the unclaimed deposits?
Either visit the bank/financial institution or their website for details on the inactive accounts and look for the primary account holder's name. The banks maintain the list of inactive accounts as they are required to report them to the RBI.
You can use the details like name of the account holder, their date of birth, PAN, etc to find out the details.
Original account holder
If you are claiming or reviving a deposit for an account held by yourself, just fill in a claim form for unclaimed deposits at the bank's branch or download the form online and then submit it at the branch. You will have to submit identity proof and fill your present contact details.
If you are the legal heir of the account holder, you can claim the amount with the relevant claim form that you will need to submit at the branch. Either download the form from the bank's website or obtain it at the branch.
You will have to provide your own identity proof and a copy of the death certificate of the deceased primary account holder.
On submitting the form, the bank will do some routine verification process to verify the authenticity of the claim and once approved, the account will become operative. The account can then be used by the original account holder for regular activities.
In case of the legal heir, the unclaimed amount will be settled as per the bank's procedure.
Important points to note
- The unclaimed amounts can only be claimed within 25 years of it becoming inoperative/inactive.
- Original identification proofs will be required to be presented for verification.
- In case of a savings account, the interest is credited irrespective of the account being inoperative.
- In the absence of a will, the heir may not be aware of the accounts held by the original holder even if they are named as nominees. The banks are, however, required to make all efforts to trace the account holders.
- If the heir is not assigned as the nominee of the shares held by the deceased, he/she will require to obtain a succession certificate from the district court. There are specialized asset recovery companies that could also help you with the process.
- If the deceased has more than one legal heir, the one applying for the claim will have to obtain a NOC (no objection certificate) from the others to process the claim. This is required if the deceased holder of shares had not registered a nominee.