A dormant account is an account that has had no customer-initiated transactions for 15 years. Life assurance policies with a specified term are considered dormant 5 years after the end of that term.
Under the Dormant Accounts Acts 2001–2012 and the Unclaimed Life Assurance Policies Act 2003, balances on dormant accounts with banks, building societies and An Post, as well as the net value of certain life assurance policies are paid into the Dormant Accounts Fund. This fund is managed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).
Financial institutions must contact you if you have not made a transaction on your account in 15 years or more. If the institution cannot contact you, the money in the account will be transferred to the Dormant Accounts Fund. The rights of original account holders (or their heirs) are not affected by the transfer to the Fund and they can always reclaim the money (including interest) - see 'How to apply' below for information on how to reclaim funds.
If someone dies without making a will and their relatives cannot be found, the State is the ultimate beneficiary of their estate. The proceeds of sale of property and any other assets are placed in an Intestate Estates Fund Deposit Account, which may also be paid into the Dormant Accounts Fund.
What kind of dormant accounts are covered by the Acts?
The Acts apply to:
- Deposit, share or current accounts in a bank or building society
- An account, saving certificate, savings bond or instalment saving scheme with An Post
- Certain life assurance policies
The legislation does not apply to accounts held in credit unions.
What is the dormancy period?
The dormancy period means a period of 15 years from 30 September of each year. An account is designated dormant when on 30 September there have been no transactions by the account holder in the previous 15 years.
Institutions must write to all customers identified as being holders of dormant accounts (unless there is under €100 in the account, or the person has instructed the institution not to send correspondence to them, or correspondence to the person's last address has been returned). If an account has been designated as being a dormant account– the account holder has until 31 March of the following year to reactivate the account by contacting their institution and carrying out a transaction on the account. After 31 March of the following year, the funds are transferred to the Dormant Accounts Fund. Even if the funds or property have been transferred to the Dormant Accounts Fund, you or your next of kin still have a claim on your funds or property.
Dormant accounts disbursement schemes
While the legislation guarantees that account holders can reclaim funds at any time, it also provides for the disposal of funds that are not likely to be reclaimed.
Allocations from the Dormant Accounts Fund are focussed on programmes or projects that support the following objectives and groups:
- The personal and social development of people who are economically or socially disadvantaged
- The educational development of people who are educationally disadvantaged,
- People with a disability (within the meaning of the Equal Status Acts)
You can get further information on the schemes funded by dormant accounts
from the Department of Rural and Community Development or from Pobal – see
'Further information' below.
How to apply
If you have been notified by your credit institution, or if you believe you have dormant funds in a branch of a credit institution, you should complete the Dormant Account Claim Form and send it directly to the credit institution concerned. The Dormant Account Claim Form is in the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland booklet, A Guide to Dormant Accounts (pdf), which is available in credit institutions.
If the credit institution no longer exists, you can find information on dormant accounts on the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland website, bpfi.ie.
You should send the completed Dormant Account Claim Form directly to the credit institution concerned.
For general information on dormant accounts schemes, you can contact the Department of Rural and Community Development or Pobal.
For enquiries about dormant bank accounts or for queries about tracing funds, contact the relevant branch or head office of the credit institution. If the credit institution no longer exists, contact the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland.