Sunday, 19 November 2023, 20:09
Millions of euros left behind in bank accounts of deceased people are being transferred to the state and not claimed by their heirs in Spain.
An example may be that you stumble across a savings account in the name of your grandfather who passed away 25 years ago. It shows a balance of 125,000 pesetas. You go to the bank, but they tell you that the account was operational until five years ago and the remaining balance was transferred to the state's accounts. In this situation, many people seek help from the OCU consumers association.
The law states that money or any other moveable asset deposited in a bank account where no action has been taken by the owner of the account within a period of 20 years is transferred to the state. In 2021, the latest year where data is available, these "abandoned" funds exceeded 32 million euros, of which almost 90% corresponded to cash balances deposited in the bank accounts of individuals.
The question is, how should banks proceed before transferring the balance? The OCU said the first step should be to notify the holder of the bank account at the address stipulated in their records at least three months before the deadline expires. Once it has been verified that the account has not been actioned in 20 years, the bank can classify the funds as abandoned. If, despite this, the money is unclaimed by the holders or their heirs, the entities must file a declaration presuming the funds have been abandoned with the ministry of finance before the end of the first quarter of the following year. "It is precisely that body that is in charge of formally declaring the assets as abandoned. From that moment on that money passes into the hands of the state," OCU added.
What can you do to prevent this from happening to you?
"First of all, if you change your residential address, you should inform all the financial institutions where you have money or investments of your change of address: this way you will continue to receive information by mail and it will be more difficult to lose track of them," the OCU pointed out. It is also recommended printing out information and keep a dossier of important documents. This way, it will be easier for your heirs to keep track of your finances, OCU added.
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