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You might think that because most of us work so hard to earn money and accumulate a pension pot to support us through retirement, few of us would be careless enough to fail to keep track of what we have put away. But you’d be wrong!
According to website findmylostpension.com, an independent social enterprise working with pension holders and pension providers to reunite lost pensions with their rightful owners, over 1m Britons have failed to claim pensions with a value totalling billions.
Pensions remain unclaimed for a number of reasons including failure to notify the pension company of a change of address or a change of name by marriage or deed poll, a spouse not being aware that they are entitled to a deceased partner’s pension, lost paperwork by the pension holder and of course, moving abroad.
Findmylostpension.com estimates that around one quarter of unclaimed pensions in the UK belong to expat pensioners who are untraceable since moving abroad. The benefits owing range from £2,000 to £30,000 per year and there are also tax-free lump sums unclaimed for amounts of up to £40,000. With new pensions legislation giving over-55s free access to their pension pots, 25% of it tax-free, some expats could be in for a pleasant windfall.
Traditionally it has been very difficult for pension providers to trace expats abroad, and for individuals to check up on any pensions they may have forgotten about, but the internet is changing that. And the good news is that it will cost you nothing to find money that you may be owed.
The government has its own free-to-use pension tracing service which will give you the details of any schemes you have contributed to in order for you to contact them directly. Demand for the service has been steadily rising with the number of queries doubling in the four years from 2010 to 2014 to reach 145,000. The number of staff working in the service has increased and success rates are high – 87% of pensioners succeeded in tracing pensions. Alternatively, findmylostpension.com does the same job and is also free.
A highly fluid job market has exacerbated the problem of lost pensions. With a job for life largely a thing of the past, it is much harder for individuals to keep track of the different schemes they may contribute to during the course of a working life. This trend is set to continue with one estimate suggesting that by 2050 there may be as many as 50m pension pots sitting unclaimed.
Don’t let yours be one of them. If you think you may have contributed into a scheme at some point, check it out. You might get a pleasant surprise!
If you need help tracing, transferring or setting up a pension please get in touch to arrange a no-obligation, free consultation with one of our qualified consultants.