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Revealed: how to claim your share of Britain’s lost billions

Are you a secret millionaire?

Billions of pounds remain unclaimed in the UK, sitting in old bank accounts, pension schemes and even unclaimed lottery winnings. So are you missing out on funds that are rightfully yours?

Find out how to track down your money and see if you could be in for a windfall.


1) Unclaimed National Lottery winnings

Think twice before throwing away old lottery tickets, as you could be in with a chance of winning a prize.

A total of eight £1m Lotto prizes are yet to be claimed. The oldest winning ticket dates back to 17 January 2018 and the lucky person has until 16 July 2018 to claim their prize.

If that wasn’t enough, there are also five £1m EuroMillions prizes waiting to be claimed as well.

The oldest ticket dates back to 23 February and the winner has until 22 August to claim their money.

Check out the National Lottery unclaimed prizes page to see whether you could be in for a windfall.

If you’ve lost your lottery ticket, it will be a lot trickier to make a claim.

While the National Lottery is under no obligation to pay out winnings to someone who lost their ticket, they will consider appeals made within 30 days of the relevant draw.

To make an appeal, you’ll need to submit evidence of your purchase via post or email.

2) Unclaimed premium bond prizes

There are 1.4m unclaimed premium bonds prizes worth £58.9m in total. This includes five worth £100,000 and five worth £50,000.

More than 3m prizes are handed out each month, ranging from £25 to £1m.

Premium bonds are often given as gifts by parents or grandparents, so it’s worth checking whether you hold any in your name.

Your winnings won’t expire and, in fact, one of the oldest unclaimed prizes dates back to November 1957.

You can check whether you’ve got unclaimed winnings using the Premium Bonds checker on the NS&I website or through the mobile app.

All you have to do is enter your premium bonds number/s.

3) Lost savings accounts

Around £850m is sitting in lost bank accounts and savings accounts in the UK.

An account is considered lost when your bank or building society has not been able to contact you, usually due to a change of address, or if there has been no account activity for three years or more.

If you think you might have money in an old account, don’t fret, as reclaiming it is simple.

My Lost Account is a free service designed to help you trace lost bank accounts and savings.

You can use the service even if you can’t remember which bank or building society the account was with.

It usually takes around tree months to complete a search. If a lost account is found, you’ll need to prove your identity and that you have a legal right to the money.

After this your account can be reopened or you can simply reclaim the money and close it.

4) Missing child trust funds

Nearly £1bn worth of savings is waiting to be claimed in child trust funds accounts.

Child trust funds are tax-free accounts offered to children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011, before they were replaced by Junior Isas.

It’s simple to track down a child trust fund account, all you have to do is a submit request via Gov.uk.

You’ll need a Government Gateway ID to do this, which should only take a few moments to create if you don’t already have one.

Once signed in, you’ll be asked if you’re the parent, guardian or the child that the account belongs to.

It takes around 15 days to get a response back once you’ve submitted a request.

5) Lost Ulster savings certificates

There’s around £6bn in Ulster Savings Certificates waiting to be claimed.

Ulster Savings were introduced in 1922 by the Ministry of Finance to raise funds for capital projects in Northern Ireland.

Certificates were sold up until 1991 and a decision was made to stop reinvesting existing certificates in 1997.

If you’ve lost track of an Ulster Savings Certificate, you’ll need to fill in a form and send it to the Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel.

6) Lost pensions

There’s more than £5bn in unclaimed workplace pension schemes in the UK.

The government-backed Pension Tracing Service can help you find old pensions you’re entitled to claim.

All you have to do is complete a form online, via post or over the phone. The service takes an average of 6-8 weeks to complete but some cases could take longer.

7) Unclaimed estates

When someone dies without a will or known family, their estate passes to the Crown as an ownerless property. This is also known as ‘bona vacantia’.

A list of unclaimed estates is published by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on Gov.uk.

To make a claim, you will need to check that the estate has been listed by the Crown. You’ll also need to prove that you are an ‘entitled relative’ and have a right to the estate.

Usually, if a person dies without a will, their spouse or civil partner and then any children have first claim to the estate. If the deceased does not have a spouse or child, anyone descended from the same grandparent as them is entitled to a share of the inheritance.

Claims can be made by contacting the Bona Vacantia division of the Government Legal Department via post or email.

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