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The state has €568 million sitting in dormant accounts

© Tim Evans via Unsplash

The Belgian state is sitting on €568 million of money in ‘dormant accounts,’ and De Standaard explains how to find out if any of that dragon’s hoard is yours.

A dormant account is defined by law as an account – a bank account, securities account of safe-deposit box – which has seen no transactions for five years, and there has been no communication between the financial institution and the titular owner of the account.

If the financial institution is unable to make contact with the owner, then the balance of the account is passed over to the Deposit and Consignment Office of the federal finance ministry.

The reasons why an account may be overlooked are several: grandparents who open an account in the name of grandchildren without informing anyone, is commonplace. Or a bank may simply have no contact details for the titular owner of the account, who may no longer be alive.

But while the state becomes guardian of the account, it is not free to spend the bounty. The owner has 30 years to claim the contents of the account, dating from the time it was transferred into the guardianship of the Consignment Office.

But how can the titular owner of a dormant account go about doing so? De Standaard explains.

In the first place, the existence of a dormant account often comes to light in a question of inheritance, when the notary in charge of the estate looks into the property of the deceased. At that point, it may become clear that the deceased opened accounts in the name of certain descendants (or even charities, not uncommonly).

Anyone who thinks Grandpa may have squirrelled something away on their behalf can also contact the financial industry federation Febelfin and their Bankresearch service and carry out the research themselves.

Another option is to ask your own bank to carry out some research – although that’s unlikely to be free.

Or you could put on your deerstalker and head to the finance ministry’s own search engine for dormant accounts. You’ll need to sign in with your e-ID, or alternative.

Should there be an account out there you’re entitled to, there’s a whole other procedure to follow, which may involve providing more documentation to the ministry.

Two further conditions apply: there must have been no more than 30 years elapsed since the account was declared dormant. And the sum involved must exceed €60, where the amount goes directly to the state – bringing in a princely sum to the public coffers every year, as such small amounts are common.

Last year 5,172 applications for reimbursement were submitted. Money was paid out 2,064 times, amounting to €11.2 million.