It's a touching tale.
A young man comes to work in Dubai, earns a decent salary, but dies young and while in service. He leaves an inheritance for his mother and brother.
So what is new about the story, you might ask.
Well, for one, the mother who was busy dealing with the death of her son soon found herself mourning her other child the very next year and in doing so was too busy to follow up on any monetary paperwork.
And so when the mother got a call eight years after the son’s death from a Dubai will writing firm saying she and her family had inherited Dh400,000 (approximately Rs7.5 million ) and her share was close to Rs3.3 million (Dh175,000), she was dumb-founded.
For Mary Kutty Thomas, now 78 years old, a retired nurse, living in Pala, Kerala, inheriting this sum of monies means a lot. “It is not just the fact that it is such a large amount, but it is my son’s hard-earned money.”
Shino, who was just 35 years of age and single, had no legal heirs besides his mother and brother. “He is my hero, just as is my older son who both are not in this world anymore.”
Gulf News spoke to Mary in India. “What can I say, I am grateful for this [windfall]," she said. "I knew my son had savings, but I did not know the process of procuring his investment. When Shino died my older son was in touch with a few people in Dubai to help us get his inheritance, but we were not able to make any headway. Added to this when my other son also died a year later, I totally gave up.”
“It is never easy coming to terms with the death of a loved one.”
It was at a wedding in 2016 when a relative asked Mary if she had received all dues related to Shino. When she said no, the relative suggested a few contacts in Dubai who could help her get her inheritance money.
And that is how Mohammad Marria, founder of will writing company Just Wills, came into the picture. He got involved in Shino’s case and the rest is history.
Speaking to Gulf News, Marria said the employer Shino worked with also got in touch with the will writing firm. Shino’s life savings, insurance money and gratuity were all lying in a ‘dormant account’ in a bank and they wanted to set up a ‘legal inheritance certificate’ to transfer his money to his family.
“This is what happens when no heir comes to claim the deceased monies and savings,” he explained.
“Unfortunately in the case of Shino the family was so involved in getting on with their lives that they failed to follow up on their inheritance.”
Marria said he has dealt with more than 45 death cases since 2005 and in almost every instance, the heirs are unaware of where the deceased family member has parked any asset and monies. “It is important to share information with your loved ones. Keep them informed where you are parking your money. Why would you want to hide such a thing? It just complicates life for people you leave behind,” he said, stressing that having a will is imperative and more sharing your financial investments with close family members.
In the case of Shino, Marria said the case came to him in 2017. “Once his employer received the approval from their legal department to transfer Shino’s monies to his family, we were able to send it. The entire process took years and this could have been saved if the family had approached the employer earlier. It is a sweet ending after all, but one that could have been done years earlier.”
Shino’s savings and end-of-service were distributed to the family on the basis of the UAE Law of Inheritance as he did not have a will in place. “So the mother received one-third [of it] and two-thirds of the monies went to his older brother’s family. Since the older brother had died, the monies went to his children and his wife," explained Marria.
Did you know?
In India, the amount of unclaimed insurance money has been increasing. According to a 2018 report by Press Trust of India (PTI), as much as Rs151.67 billion of policyholders' money was unclaimed with 23 life insurers as on March 31, 2018. There has been a 25 per cent increase annually over the past five years in unclaimed money by policyholders.
15,167 crore of policyholder's money was lying unclaimed with 23 life insurers as on March 31, 2018. There has been a 25 percent increase annually over the past five years in unclaimed money by policyholders.
What happens to the unclaimed amount in India?
In July 2017, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) asked all insurers having unclaimed amounts of policyholders for a period of more than 10 years as on September 30, 2017, to transfer the same to the Senior Citizens' Welfare Fund (SCWF) on or before March 1, 2018.