Avoiding Dormant Assets
Unfortunately, it happens again and again that contact with the bank client is lost and deposited assets are forgotten. For clients or their heirs, this can mean a difficult search. A client relationship is considered dormant if the bank has been unable to establish contact with the client or authorised representative for at least 10 years.
Instructions, communications, or statements that trigger a movement on an account, securities account, or safe deposit box or that give rise to notes in the client’s file, as well as communications sent to the client by post, are regarded as contact. Corres-pondence retained by the bank for collection is also deemed to have been delivered.
If a bank determines that a client relationship is dormant, the relationship is marked accordingly. In principle, the bank waives the right to terminate contractual relationships with clients in the case of dormancy and the corresponding statute of limitations on receivables. However, the bank reserves the right of termination or invoicing if the claim against the client or the client's legal successor is no longer covered.
The client relationship is continued in the interest of the entitled client or legal successor, and the assets are invested in a manner that safeguards the interests of the entitled client.
Search for assets (inheritance enquiries)
The Secretariat of the Liechtenstein Bankers Association is the central contact point for the search for dormant assets in accordance with the Guideline of 1 July 1999 on the treatment of dormant accounts, booklets, custody accounts, and safe deposit boxes at Liechtenstein banks.
A person credibly demonstrating to be the legal successor of a member bank client who died or went missing more than 10 years ago, without knowledge of the bank in the question, can request this contact point to address an enquiry to all member banks.
The central contact point acts on behalf of the member banks and the presumed client. It is bound by banking secrecy. Persons submitting such a request must
- credibly demonstrate that an account, custody account, or safe deposit box still exists or might exist at a member bank,
- indicate the name of the person for whom the account, custody account, or safe deposit box is held,
- provide evidence that the bank client has already died or has been missing for more than 10 years,
- credibly demonstrate their entitlement to the account, custody account, or safe deposit box which may still exist, in particular by documenting their identity and legal succession with official documents.
On the basis of the documents submitted, the central contact point carries out a preliminary review. If it considers the request to be justified, it initiates the procedure in accordance with the following provisions. If necessary, it requests further documents or information from the applicant.
The LBA informs the banks concerned in writing of the requests it has received and considers to be justified. The banks examine the data and documents transmitted with due care. If a bank determines that it has corresponding dormant assets, it asks the central contact point to provide the available documents and records for its own review. The bank may discuss borderline cases and cases of doubt with the central contact point. If the review is positive, the bank reports the outcome of its investigations directly to the applicant or contacts the requesting person via the central contact point. If the review is negative, the bank informs the contact point, which in turn informs the requesting person. If the presumed bank client is not covered by this guideline, i.e. if the date of death is less than 10 years prior, the heirs must submit their request directly to the individual member banks. A list of all banks licensed in Liechtenstein can be found here.
To start an enquiry, please fill out the “Questionnaire for the search for dormant assets at Liechtenstein banks” (only available in german). Print it out, sign it, and submit it with the certified or original documents mentioned in the questionnaire either to the Liechtenstein Bankers Association – if the death occurred more than 10 years ago – or otherwise directly to the bank concerned. Since the required documents may vary depending on the country of origin, please clarify this in advance.