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Unclaimed Money

Page updated 15 Apr 2013

This is an information page for members of the public interested in sources of unclaimed money in New Zealand.

What is Unclaimed Money?

Unclaimed money is money held by a person or organisation, such as a solicitor or a Bank, where the owner of that money (or someone with authority to act on behalf of the owner) cannot be found.
In general, money is classed as unclaimed after a certain length of time has passed since the person or organisation holding the money has been able to contact the owner. The length of time depends on the type of money.

What Happens to Unclaimed Money?

For the most part, unclaimed money is eventually transferred to the Crown, usually to the Treasury or the Inland Revenue Department, or the Public Trust.

How Can You Claim Unclaimed Money?

Unclaimed money can be repaid to the owner of the money, or someone who is authorised to act on behalf or instead of the owner, once a claim has been established as valid. You will need to provide as much evidence as possible to show that you are entitled to the money, including proof of your identity. Where you go to make that claim will depend on what type of money it is. In most cases, you will not be entitled to interest on any unclaimed money.
The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) publishes an Unclaimed Money list of the unclaimed money that it holds. The list shows the name of the owner or owners of the money, the amounts held, and how the money can be claimed. See below for the different types of unclaimed money and how you can claim that money.

Types of Unclaimed Money

The following are examples of money (and entitlements to money) that may be unclaimed:

Trust Money

The Trustee Act 1956 allows trustees to pay money or securities held by a trust (such as a family trust or a charitable trust) to the Crown, through the Treasury, when they no longer wish to be trustees. This will usually be done when none of the trust’s beneficiaries can be found and the trustees wish to wind up the trust.
The Treasury holds such monies in a trust account for six years. If the money is not paid out during this time, it will be transferred to the Crown bank account as unclaimed money.
The Treasury publishes a statement of the monies held in the trust account in the New Zealand Gazette at the end of each financial year. Copies of the New Zealand Gazette can be found in New Zealand public libraries and at New Zealand Gazette On-Line on the Department of Internal Affairs web site.

Making a Claim

Claimants may approach the Treasury directly to claim trust monies that have been paid to the Treasury.
Contact the Legal group of the Treasury.

Officers for Enquiries

Legal Group
Tel: +64 4 472 2733
Fax: +64 4 473 0982
Email: legal@treasury.govt.nz

 

 

Please provide as many details as possible of the circumstances relating to your claim, including evidence of your entitlement to the unclaimed monies.

Legislation

Trustee Act 1956
Public Finance Act 1989

Money Held by the Māori Trustee

Under the Māori Trustee Act 1953, if the Māori Trustee holds money in the common fund for at least 10 years and no claim has been made for that money during that time it will become unclaimed money. The Māori Trustee publishes on the Māori Trustee website a database of names for whom unclaimed money, and other unpaid funds, are held.

Making a Claim

If you believe that the Māori Trustee is holding funds for you, you should check the Unclaimed Money section of the Māori Trustee website, contact your nearest Māori Trustee office or email the Māori Trustee.

 

For Enquiries

Māori Trustee
Email: info@maoritrustee.co.nz
Website: http://www.maoritrustee.co.nz

Legislation

Māori Trustee Act 1953

Money in Solicitors’ Trust Accounts

Where a solicitor holds money in a trust account and the person that the money is being held for cannot be found, then the solicitor may pay the money to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD). There is no set time period that the solicitor must hold on to the money before paying it to the IRD.

Making a Claim

Check the IRD’s Unclaimed Money list to see if the IRD is holding the monies. If it is, follow the IRD’s procedures for making a claim. If not, you will need to check with the solicitor.

Legislation

Unclaimed Money Act 1971
Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006

Deposits in Banks and Financial Institutions

Money in bank accounts will become unclaimed if the person who owns the account has not operated the account for a period of six years or, if it is a fixed term deposit, six years after the date the fixed term expires.
If the bank where the money is deposited is a “savings bank”, then the period of time which the money will be held by the bank is 25 years. “Savings banks” include most major banks and building societies.
Unclaimed money will be paid to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) if its owner cannot be found.

Making a Claim

Check the IRD’s Unclaimed Money list to see if the money has been transferred to the IRD. If it has, follow the IRD’s procedures for making a claim. If not, you will need to check with the bank or financial institution.

Legislation

Unclaimed Money Act 1971

Wages and Employee Benefits

Unpaid wages and benefits held by employers for more than 6 years may be paid to Inland Revenue Department (IRD).

Making a Claim

Check the IRD’s Unclaimed Money list to see if the IRD is holding the monies. If it is, follow the IRD’s procedures for making a claim. If not, you will need to check with the employer.

Legislation

Unclaimed Money Act 1971

Dividends and Surplus Assets from Liquidation

Unclaimed dividends from shares in companies (this excludes mutual associations) are paid out according to the company’s own rules. For example, the rules of some companies may allow the company to pay unclaimed dividends to other shareholders. The dividends can’t be claimed if they have been distributed to other shareholders.
If a company is liquidated and there are unclaimed assets upon completion of the liquidation, the liquidator may pay the funds to the Public Trust (unless the funds are bona vacantia, in which case they may be paid to the Treasury). If a claim can be established, the Public Trust (or, in some cases, the Treasury) can make a payment to the person entitled to the money.

Making a Claim

Contact the company concerned to find out about its rules relating to unclaimed dividends.
Contact the Public Trust to find out about a liquidated company’s surplus assets.

Officers for Enquiries

Public Trust
Tel: (0)800 371 471 (within New Zealand)
Tel: +64 3 371 4000 (from overseas)
Fax: +64 4 363 4551
Email: info@publictrust.co.nz

 

 

 

Legislation

Unclaimed Money Act 1971
Companies Act 1993

Proceeds of Life Insurance Policies

The proceeds of life insurance policies that have matured (through death or otherwise) are paid to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) if, after six years, the life insurance company is unable to find the person entitled to the proceeds

Making a Claim

Check the IRD’s Unclaimed Money list to see if the IRD is holding the monies. If it is, follow the IRD’s procedures for making a claim. If not, you will need to check with the life insurance company.

Legislation

Unclaimed Money Act 1971

Property Administered by the Public Trust

The Public Trust Act 2001 allows the Public Trust to be appointed manager of any real (land) or personal (other) property in New Zealand if its owner cannot be found.
If the property is land, and no one has established a claim to it within 20 years, then the land will be transferred to the Crown. Any money derived from the land (e.g. rent) is paid to the Treasury. All real property will be transferred to the Crown, through Land Information New Zealand, after a period of 7 years and any money derived from that property will be transferred to the Treasury.

Making a Claim

If you think the Public Trust may be managing property that you own or may be entitled to then you should contact the Public Trust.

Officers for Enquiries

Public Trust
Tel: (0)800 371 471 (within New Zealand)
Tel: +64 3 371 4000 (from overseas)
Fax: +64 4 363 4551
Email: info@publictrust.co.nz
Legislation

Public Finance Act 1989
Public Trust Act 2001

Government Departments

Money that is held by Government departments and Crown entities that remains unclaimed for 6 years is paid to the Treasury. This may include awards from court cases, reparations to victims of crime (Ministry of Justice) and prisoners’ allowances (Department of Corrections).

Making a Claim

If you think you are entitled to any money held by a government department, you must first approach the relevant department. See the A-Z of Government on the New Zealand Government web site for contact details of New Zealand Government departments and Crown entities.
Contact the Treasury in the first instance only if the relevant department no longer exists and you need advice about which other department you may approach. In such cases contact the Finance group of the Treasury.

 

Officers for Enquiries

Finance Group
Tel: +64 4 472 2733
Fax: +64 4 471 5171
Email: financequeries@treasury.govt.nz

 

Legislation

Public Finance Act 1989

Proceeds from Superannuation Schemes

Government Superannuation Fund

The Government Superannuation Fund (the “Fund”) was established in 1948 as a superannuation scheme for state sector employees.
The Fund is managed and administered by the Government Superannuation Fund Authority (GSFA) in accordance with the Government Superannuation Fund Act 1956. For more information on the Authority, visit the Government Superannuation Fund Authority web site. The Authority out-sources the day-to-day administration of the Fund such as collecting contributions, calculating and paying entitlements and handling all member enquiries. These services are provided by Datacom Employer Services Ltd.


Making a Claim

If you think that you are entitled to money from the Fund, either personally or as a survivor of a member of the Fund, you should contact Datacom to make a claim.

Officers for Enquiries

Datacom | GSF Schemes Administration
P O Box 3614
Wellington 6140
Free Phone: (0)800 654 731 (within New Zealand)
Phone: +64 4 470 6348
Fax: +64 4 470 6366
Email: gsf@datacom.co.nz

 


Legislation

Government Superannuation Fund Act 1956

National Provident Fund

National Provident Fund (the “NPF”) provided Government-guaranteed superannuation to members and ran employer-based schemes for non-departmental public sector employers, such as local bodies and public boards. It is now closed to new members. A Board of Trustees administers the scheme and manages the investments of the Fund National Provident Fund, and the day-to-day administration is provided by Datacom Employer Services Limited.
The Board of Trustees may no longer pay out entitlements to members who have been missing (not making contributions to the scheme and for which the Board does not have a current address) for five years. This will only happen after reasonable efforts have been made to find the member. However, if a member contacts the administrators of the NPF within 15 years, they may be able to claim their entitlement back.

Making a Claim

If you think that you are entitled to money from the NPF, either personally or as a survivor of a member of the NFP, you should complete the forms set out on the Unclaimed Monies section of the NPF website and send to the NPF Scheme Administrator.

Officers for Enquiries

Datacom Employer Services Limited | NPF Scheme Administrator
Level 4, Sovereign House
34 Manners St
Wellington 6011
Tel: (0)800 628 776 (within New Zealand)
Tel: +64 4 381 0600 (from overseas)
Email: npfenquiries@datacom.co.nz
Website: http://www.npf.co.nz

 

Legislation

National Provident Fund Restructuring Act 1990

Compulsory New Zealand Superannuation 1970s

Money held in the National Superannuation Scheme of the 1970’s was transferred to the National Provident Fund on the dissolution of that Scheme.

The NPF website has details on how a refund can be applied for. 

The website address is http://www.npf.co.nz/content/62234106-62b6-41c4-a9c1-c240a2e64fa3.html


Legislation

Superannuation Schemes Act 1976

Private Superannuation Schemes

Private superannuation schemes have their own rules about how unclaimed superannuation payments are handled.

Making a Claim

If you think that you are entitled to money from a superannuation fund, you should contact the administrators of the scheme in the first instance to make a claim.

New Zealand Superannuation

New Zealand Superannuation (also known as the pension, National Super or Super) is a benefit paid by the Government to New Zealanders once they reach the qualifying age, which is currently 64 or 65. The Work and Income service of the Ministry of Social Development administers New Zealand Superannuation.
See the general information page about New Zealand Superannuation for information about whether you are eligible to a deceased relative or partner’s entitlements: Work and Income | Get Assistance - Main benefit information - New Zealand Superannuation

Making a Claim

If you live in New Zealand you should contact the Work and Income Contact Centre:

Officers for Enquiries

Work and Income Contact Centre
Tel: (0)800 552 002
Tel: +64 4 381 0500
Email: information@msd.govt.nz

 

 

International Services

Contact details for International Services: Work and Income | Get Assistance - International Services

Legislation

New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001

Government-issued Bonds

Bonds issued by the Crown, including Kiwi Bonds, are issued in New Zealand by the Treasury’s Debt Management Office.

Making a Claim

If you think you entitled to unclaimed money from bonds that have matured but have not been paid out, you should contact the Registrar - Computershare Investor Limited.

Officers for Enquiries

The Manager, Fixed Interest Registry | Computershare Investor Services Limited
Level 2, 159 Hurstmere Road
North Shore City 0622
Private Bag 92119
AUCKLAND 1142
Tel: +64 9 488 8777
Fax: +64 9 488 8787
Tel: (0)800 655 494 (within New Zealand)
Email: enquiry@computershare.co.nz

 

War Bonds and Liberty Bonds

New Zealand War Bonds were issued between 1942 and 1945 by the Reserve Bank for a fixed period to be paid when they matured. The last maturity date was 1963. Although, these were registered bonds i.e. the bonds were issued in the names of those who bought them, there is no register of bonds which have not been redeemed.
New Zealand Liberty Bonds were issued around 1943. These were bearer bonds, which mean that they may be redeemed upon production of the bond.

Making a Claim

If you think you may be entitled to unclaimed money from bonds that have matured but have not been paid out, you should contact the New Zealand Debt Management Office at the Treasury.

If you wish to claim unclaimed money from bonds you will need to provide sufficient evidence, such as the original documents, to the New Zealand Debt Management Office.

Officers for Enquiries

New Zealand Debt Management Office
Tel: +64 4 917 6911
Fax: +64 4 473 0982
Email: info@nzdmo.govt.nz

 

If you are not the original owner of the bonds you may also need to verify your right to the money.

Unclaimed Property Left at Hotels, Motels and Other Lodgings

If a person leaves property at a hotel, motel, hostel or similar lodging, the owner of the business may, after 6 months, sell the property and pay the proceeds (less any expenses) to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD). This money will be included in the IRD’s Unclaimed Money list.

Making a Claim

Check the IRD’s Unclaimed Money list to see if the IRD is holding the monies. If it is, follow the IRD’s procedures for making a claim.

Legislation

Innkeepers Act 1962
Unclaimed Money Act 1971

Related Links

Bona Vacantia (Ownerless) Property

Contact for General Enquiries

Information Services | The Treasury Tel: +64 4 472 2733
Email: information@treasury.govt.nz

 

 

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