On January 25, 2022, one of the most intriguing topics that hit the front pages of the Business Daily was that of unclaimed assets.
“FIND UNCLAIMED ASSET OWNERS,” the caption read. One may wonder, is this the Julius Malema sign that the wealth of Kenyans have exceeded their storage facilities, that they don’t want them anymore? In the story, Kenyans were made aware of the horrifying fact that financial institutions i.e. banks, pension schemes, legal firms, and Saccos, to name a few, have deposited Kshs54.8 billion worth of idle cash, shares, and profits to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA).
How can such highly valued amounts of wealth be unclaimed? That was the question in the minds of many Kenyans. Well, as we wrote this article, a few things became clear:
- There has been little public awareness of the procedures that must be followed by Kenyans to retrieve their monies.
- There is a significant level of secrecy among families when it comes to assets, such that many are left in the dark about their deceased’s members’ assets.
Worry not, in this article; we set out the long and the short of this subject.
What are Unclaimed Assets?
Unclaimed assets are intangible financial assets that are held by institutions, such as financial institutions or businesses, but belong to another owner who has failed to transact with the account for a specified period. They range from dormant bank accounts, unclaimed trust funds, matured life insurance policies, retirement benefit dividends, uncashed dividends, uncashed traveller’s checks, stock, refunds, and unredeemed gift cards.
To adequately contextualize issues, it is best to ask ourselves these questions?
- Have I lost a family member who had during his lifetime subscribed to a retirement benefits scheme?
- Did I withdraw the little amount I had in my previous bank account before I changed my bank?
- Did my late father/brother/sister etc take out a life insurance policy? If yes, did we make a claim after they passed on?
Whilst some of these questions may bring back sad memories, they are very crucial in ensuring our wealth does not go unclaimed.
Is The Subject of Unclaimed Financial Assets Addressed in Kenyan Law?
The Unclaimed Financial Assets Act of 2011 is the law that governs unclaimed financial assets.
Who Is the Supervising Authority?
The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) is a government entity established by the Unclaimed Financial Assets Act. Its main objective is managing unclaimed financial assets and making payments to the rightful owners.
In the discharge of its mandate, the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority is required to trace owners of unclaimed financial assets and notify them to enable them to lay claims. The Authority publishes its reports in local newspapers, notifying Kenyans whose assets fall into the hands of the authority.
The Authority houses the Unclaimed Assets Trust Fund. All unclaimed assets are deposited in the fund. The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority is entrusted to manage the fund and pay those who claim the assets; from the fund.
How Do You Claim Your Assets From UFAA?
To make the process of claiming your asset from the authority easier, the UFAA has made it possible to do so through Huduma Centre or simply through their website https://ufaa.go.ke, which benefits even those outside Nairobi. Once you’ve created an account on the website, a simple search of your name will reveal any unclaimed assets you have at the UFAA. It includes provisions for, among other things, claiming as a beneficiary. Furthermore, it notifies you of the estimated amount in your account to determine whether or not it is worthwhile to pursue, as well as the requirements for initiating a claim of your specials.
Unclaimed assets could be a major inhibitor to the flow of capital in the finance sector. Proper monitoring of the flow of capital is vital in ensuring the stability of our state’s economy vis-à-vis the competitive economies of other states globally. Therefore, staying vigilant to ensure we claim our assets from the UFAA is not only in our best interest but also a good sign of patriotism.
One of the famous quotes by Samuel Butler is “Words are like money: there is nothing so meaningless until it is in use”. Similarly, idle and unclaimed assets are worthless unless they are claimed by their rightful owners. Claiming your assets will by and large provide you with an additional stream of income and help the nation alleviate poverty.
NB: Kindly note that this piece does not constitute a binding legal opinion. The Firm of CR Advocates LLP team is highly competent in Commercial Law practice and is more than ready to advise further on your legal concerns