Have you ever imagined a scenario wherein one of your closed relatives passed away suddenly and left some fortune behind but not a way to trace it? The emotional loss, although of gigantic proportions, will get compounded because of this unpredictable occurrence.
Surprisingly, this is not a one-off case. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have faced this kind of situation.
As per one media report, there are more than ₹82,000 crore of investors’ wealth lying unclaimed in a barrage of investments. These include unclaimed savings deposits in dormant bank accounts, maturity proceeds of policies idling in insurance companies and even the savings of investors tied up in inactive PF accounts.
Some experts believe that tracing these investments should not be a herculean task since all of them are linked to PAN, and the need of the hour is a single portal where investments can be retrieved by the family members.
“A person dies. Family members have to run here and there to find out the investments done by the deceased. Yet, they can’t find them. PAN is linked with all the investments done by an individual. Why don’t we still have a single portal where investments can be retrieved by the family members?” says Sagar Khubchandani, director of Greenwolf Advisors in one of his social media posts here.
For dealing with grief
There are some organisations which help in the recovery of such unclaimed assets. But most of these organisations address a part of the problem, and barely anyone has solved it in entirety.
There is one organisation that helps investors trace their lost and forgotten investments, but not necessarily after a relative's death.
“We help people trace the old, forgotten, or lost investment across all asset classes. We offer these services in any city and even to the NRIs,” said Vikash Jain, co-founder of share Samadhan.
Then there is one start-up, Mukthi Life, which enables its clients to record messages for their loved ones and these messages — publicised as ‘hello from heaven’ — are later shared with the family members after the user dies.
Although these messages don’t necessarily have to carry investment-related information, but they perhaps can.
“After someone dies in the family, the emotional loss is often more acute than the financial loss. What people can do is to leave message for their loves ones before they die. And these messages are relayed to their kin after their death,” says V. Sree Vatsan, co-founder of Mukthi Life, a Trichy-based start-up.
About financial details, he said that people are apprehensive of declaring their savings and investment via a recorded message.
“After all it is risky and can be misused. So, what we advise our clients is that they can leave a hint. For instance, they can keep a record of some asset or investment in a pen drive or a notebook and leave a message to that effect on our platform,” says Sree Vatsan.
There is another organisation — aptly named as ‘Empathy.com’ — which helps the family members trace the assets of deceased.
While highlighting how they manage to trace the assets of deceased persons, Ron Gura, the Cofounder and CEO of Empathy told MintGenie in an email, “Combining technology and human support, Empathy guides families through every step after a loved one passes away, including locating assets.”
“There are various methods of locating assets that the deceased may have had, some of which are listed in Empathy’s robust resource library. Our specialists assist users in locating these assets by guiding them and reaching out to the relevant institutions when needed.”
What kind of help do people look for
There could be an array of issues which one might have forgetten to resolve during the lifetime. While sharing the story of one of their clients, Empathy's Ron Gura, says, “Lauren, a 27-year-old, was trying to figure out her great-grandfather’s estate, which hadn’t been settled, the instructions in his will never carried out. When Lauren’s grandmother, who was the executor of the estate, passed, Lauren decided to do something about it. She shared a piece of the puzzle with us and we helped her make sense of it all and guided her through filing a court petition to be named administrator of the estate.”
To be able to execute the plan of tracing the assets and finding different pieces of the jigsaw, Empathy — that currently deals with the US-based clients — has a team of professionals working for it.
“We have a full-fledged care team consisting of social workers with expertise in grief support and a world-class app to provide both emotional and logistical support to bereaved families,” stated Mr Gura.
Range of firms
There are a number of other firms which do work in a similar fashion. For example, ‘Time Vault’ claims to simplify the process of making claims of insurance policies and FDs for its clients' families after the death of the clients.
Another firm known as ‘Covid Saathi’ is a volunteers-run firm and helps families deal with the loss of their family member. It is a group of volunteers who have put together an online repository of guides and advice that can help people get through the loss of a loved one during the COVID.
Then there is ‘Your Digi Will’ that provides an online platform to individuals where they can record, maintain and transfer their assets to their loved ones. It enables the users to create records of all assets, investments and savings at one place, which is stored in encrypted and tokenised format.
This digital platform then communicates this back to users and their families, ensuring nothing remains unclaimed.
Whichever platform one might use, there is no certainty that all unclaimed assets will be traced.
But one doesn’t know as to what could happen when one doesn’t even try. And as they say, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’.