How to find lost pensions, savings, and other forgotten money

It's estimated that 20 million Brits have a whopping £50billion sitting in "lost" accounts.

It's easy to lose track of accounts, especially for expats who have not only moved house, but moved to a whole new country.

A change of address or employer can easily lead to leaving behind an old policy or workplace pension. Especially if you only heard from the organisation by mail once a year, which can often be the case with pension schemes.

Apparently, £37 billion of this is languishing in missing or unclaimed pensions. Meanwhile, another £4.5 billion is gathering dust in lost bank accounts.

If you think you may have forgotten pensions, bank accounts, or other financial product somewhere out there, here's a breakdown of how you can recover your money.

How to find a lost pension

If you believe you may have money invested somewhere, first recall all the employers you have worked for. Think back to see if you remember paying into a pension when you worked there.

Under UK auto-enrolment laws, introduced in 2012, your employer had to enrol any employee earning more than £10,000 into a pension. If you worked for a smaller firm, you may not have been in an auto-enrolment scheme until 2017, when the rules tightened up to include far smaller organisations.

Pension schemes should send regular correspondence and include an annual statement summarising how much is in your account and what income you could receive in retirement.

If you know who the pension provider is, contact them to ask for details of what is in your account.

If you have moved house or are no longer receiving correspondence, your best option is to contact your old employer and ask them for details of the pension provider.

Should you draw a blank with the above steps, try the Pension Tracing Service on the government website.

How to track down forgotten savings or bank accounts

If you think you have money in a bank or building society account, get in touch with them directly.

Not sure of the account details? Or tracing a lost account for children or a deceased parent? The My Lost Account website should be able to help.

You'll be asked to fill in a form, which you should complete with as much detail as possible – including the name of the bank or building society where you think the money is held.

The information will be passed to the institution named, which will confirm whether a dormant account is held.

My Lost Account is a free service covering most UK banks, all UK building societies, and the full range of National Savings &Investments (NS&I) products.

Don’t expect miracles overnight – it can take up to three months to trace your money.

Did you have a child trust fund?

Teenagers born between 2002 and 2011 could have unknown savings in child trust funds. These funds hold money invested on their behalf by the government.

If you were born during the eligible period, contact your child trust fund provider directly. If you're not sure who the provider is, HMRC can check on your behalf – either parents or children can carry out this search.

How to trace lost investments

If you've ever owned individual company stocks but have lost the details, contact the company and ask for a replacement share certificate.

If in doubt about which companies you own shares in, try one of the main share registrars – Computershare, Equiniti, or Link Group – but be aware, they may charge a fee.

Alternatively, the Unclaimed Assets Portal, run by The Investment Association, may also prove useful to track down missing savings and a wider range of investments, as well as funds.

Where to uncover missing insurance policies

For insurance policies you believe you have, first check through bank account statements for details of premium payments you’ve made to an insurance company.

It might also be possible to contact your solicitor or accountant, if you think they may have details on file.

If you don’t get anywhere, try Gretel, which is a service that helps people track down lost savings and insurance products.

Think you might have an undiscovered inheritance?

You can only search for unclaimed assets for a relative or deceased person if you hold a Power of Attorney or are the executor of a will.

However, if you believe you may have a claim on the estate of someone who died without making a will, you can find a list of unclaimed estates list on the government website. This has a list of recent unclaimed estates and some historic cases, too.

Get in touch

If you think you have lost accounts in the UK, or elsewhere in the world and would like help tracking them down, we may be able to help. Email enquiries@alexanderpeter.com or call us on +44 1689 493455.

Please note:

The content of this newsletter is offered only for general informational and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute financial advice.

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