UFAA: Conclude succession cases faster to unlock idle assets

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UFAA’s CEO and Managing Trustee, FA John Mwangi, has urged Judges of the
High Court to expedite the conclusion of succession matters in order to assist
families claim unclaimed financial assets for their deceased relatives.

Courts of law make determinations as to the legal heir of a deceased person’s
estate. The rightful is then required to file a claim to UFAA for any financial assets
remitted in the name of the deceased person.

Mr. Mwangi noted that the Authority is struggling to process claims lodged for the
deceased’s estate on account of ongoing succession proceedings and verification of
grants in courts registry.
Rightful owners of unclaimed financial assets could also be living persons or
institutions.
Speaking during the Judges conference in Mombasa on January 21, 2022, Mr.
Mwangi called for increased collaboration between UFAA and the Judiciary in a bid
to settle succession matters in courts quickly, fast track verification of grants in
registries and create awareness of the unclaimed assets regime to members of the
judiciary and general public.

“The reunification of death claims largely hinges, to a greater extent, on the courts’
settlement of succession of estates of the deceased,” he said. ‘In addition, the court
helps UFAA to verify authenticity of certificate of confirmation of a grants of
administration submitted by claimants to the Authority to support deceased persons
estate so we can pay the rightful beneficiary only.’’

Mr. Mwangi observed that the law also envisages the Judiciary as a potential holder
of unclaimed financial assets.
“Courts keep litigants’ unutilized fines, penalties, court fees, or such assets the court
has determined to be refunded to an owner,” he said.
“Once two years lapses and the owner has not been paid or traced, the assets
qualify as unclaimed and should be surrendered to UFAA for eventual reunification
with rightful owners.’’

He said that UFAA will be working closely with the Judiciary to ensure that un-
surrendered unclaimed assets held by courts are paid to rightful owners or be
reported to the Authority upon lapse of defined period of time.
Financial assets become unclaimed when no enquiries are filed, followed by
transactions or even instructions given pertaining to the assets within a certain
period of time.

Some of the reasons leading to unclaimed assets include unforeseen and
unfortunate circumstances of death, changes of addresses and even human frailties
of forgetfulness.

Unclaimed financial assets traverse the entire regime of cash in a bank, shares,
insurance policies, cheques, drafts or similar instruments. They also include deposits
for utility services or contributions to retirement benefit schemes.

Mr. Mwangi said that the Authority, through National Treasury, has proposed
amendments to the Act, 2011 and Unclaimed Financial Assets Regulation 2016 to
make reunification process differentiated based on assets being claimed. The
proposed legal amendments are meant to make claiming easier albeit with relevant
controls.

The bulk of reported unclaimed financial assets from various institutions are of low
value, yet the current legal framework does not different between a high and low
value claim.

The law prescribes that all claims be processed in a standard and uniform way
making it expensive and bureaucratic especially for low value claimants.
This bottleneck is making majority of rightful owners shy away from claiming their
unclaimed assets.

Mr. Mwangi further encouraged members of the Judiciary and general public to
search and lodge claims on the recently launched self-service portal
(www.ufaa.go.ke) or by dialing USSD code *361#.