KEEPING IT SIMPLE FOR YOUR HEIRS SO THEY DON'T LOSE YOUR MONEY
Update January 6, 2014 Over the years I have reported on how assets in safe deposit boxes are forgotten
-- and so-called "abandoned" safe deposit boxes are turned over to the State. When heirs or owners can't be found
the contents of those safe deposit boxes are often sold by the State and that's because the State Treasurer doesn't want to
store your gold chains, gold coins and diamond jewelry. Instead of storing the actual physical assets, the cash from the
sale of those items is held until claimed. And it could be a loss if an heirloom watch or necklace is replaced by cash.
Elder law attorney Martha Patterson sent me an interesting article about how to make it easy for your heirs to handle to handle
your inheritance that you leave them, and part of making it easy includes information so that your money doesn't get lost
after you pass away.So one of Martha's tips is to be sure that safe deposit boxes are not kept a secret. Martha's report
follows, and if you want to reach Martha Patterson call her at (866) 452-9657. Here is Martha's article:
If your spouse or heirs cannot quickly figure out what you own after you pass away or become incapacitated, you won’t
just leave them frustrated-you might leave them with less money. State Treasuries and other government agencies currently
hold more than $32-billion in unclaimed financial assets, and most of these proceeds belonged to now deceased account holders
whose heirs were unaware that the accounts existed. In the past heirs went to your file cabinet and safe deposit box. Today
things have become much more complicated, online accounts…automatic withdrawals and bill payments… and dozens
of passwords and PIN codes. All of this makes it harder for your heirs to find your bank accounts, brokerage accounts, life
insurance, and unredeemed savings bonds. If your heirs cannot find your money the money ends up in a State Treasury or other
Here are 3 things to do to make sure your heirs can find your money:
1..Ditch the Safe Deposit Box. If your heirs do not know where it is it could be difficult
if not impossible to find. Further, if your heirs do not have the key and do not have permission to access the Safe Deposit
Box, the Bank could require the heirs to get permission from Court before they will open the box. A better solution for keeping
important papers is a fire proof safe.
2. Keep a List of Your Accounts and Keep it Current. You
should have a Paper list of your accounts with institution and account number, you may want to keep the list as part of your
Trust and also make sure that a copy of the list to the person who will handle your affairs when you die.
3. Keep a list of your passwords. It has become more and more important for people to change passwords and make
them more complicated (harder for people including your spouse and heirs to guess), if your heirs can’t access your
online accounts money can be lost. I recommend keeping your passwords in a safe location. (I keep mine on a paper list).
I know we all want to keep our financial information private, and may not want our spouses or heirs to know everything
about what we own and how to find it, unfortunately when we become incapacitated or pass away in the digital age our heirs
will not be able to open our mail, or go to the corner bank to find your money, you need to be proactive and make sure there
is a way to find the information.