How to keep family informed

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
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jbreittling
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How to keep family informed

Post by jbreittling » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:50 pm

For those that are single with siblings or parents that are still alive, how do you go about making sure they know where all of your investments are kept? For example, do you physically give them a list of your financial institutions including your account numbers? Or do you give them more - such as your username?

The older I get, the more I ponder the potential to fall over one day...and I want to make sure my family is aware of what I may have stashed away.

I think I've answered my own question by writing this post, but am curious for other insight into the topic. How do you handle this?

bcjb
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by bcjb » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:01 pm

Why don't you write all the info down on 1 piece of paper / 1 doc file, and tell one or two family members where to look for it in the event that you pass away?

aquifer
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by aquifer » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:01 pm

I have a document in my safe deposit box that contains a list of all my various accounts along with usernames and passwords. I'm unmarried. My family has been told about the document and I've arranged for a personal representative in my will who will be able to get access to the SDB. It is possible that usernames, passwords, and accounts may change and not be updated on the document. But I try to keep it current, and it would be a good start in any case. I rarely change anything so even if the passwords change, my PR would at least have a place to start.

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LAlearning
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by LAlearning » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:05 pm

My parents have them all written down in a safe place. I know not what is on them (nor do I want to). But I know where to go should the worst happen.
I know nothing!

jbreittling
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by jbreittling » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:08 pm

bcjb - That is what I was thinking I should do. I appreciate aquifer's comment as well - I do wonder, will my beneficiaries need to know usernames and such, or just that I have something with XYZ Financial Institution?

sscritic
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by sscritic » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:23 pm

I don't see the point of usernames and passwords. When you die, your executor or personal representative will have to inform the custodians of your various accounts. The custodians will likely want to see death certificates. The list of custodians is the most important. Even if I don't tell my children my account numbers, they should know my SSN (hmm, might have to write that down for them). Once they give Vanguard my name and SSN (and death certificate). I am pretty sure Vanguard will be able to find my accounts and funds, even the one I opened just before I had a heart attack and died slumped over my computer, still logged into my Vanguard account.

jbreittling
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by jbreittling » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:25 pm

sscritic wrote:I don't see the point of usernames and passwords. When you die, your executor or personal representative will have to inform the custodians of your various accounts. The custodians will likely want to see death certificates. The list of custodians is the most important. Even if I don't tell my children my account numbers, they should know my SSN (hmm, might have to write that down for them). Once they give Vanguard my name and SSN (and death certificate). I am pretty sure Vanguard will be able to find my accounts and funds, even the one I opened just before I had a heart attack and died slumped over my computer, still logged into my Vanguard account.


That's the kind of detail I hadn't actually considered - making sure they know your SSN. Thanks for that important detail.

jebmke
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by jebmke » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:26 pm

sscritic wrote:even the one I opened just before I had a heart attack and died slumped over my computer, still logged into my Vanguard account.

The Account Upgrade didn't work for you either?
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

LeeMKE
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by LeeMKE » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:28 pm

http://www.nolo.com/products/get-it-together-get.html

Nolo Press covers everything you should consider and how to store/distribute key information.

When I was single, I wrote a letter each year at tax time, outlining where to find key items. I sealed it and mailed it to a friend, asking them to keep it and exchanging it each year with a new sealed envelope.

Now, my affairs are more complicated because I manage money my husband would need immediately, so I'm creating the binder suggested by Nolo Press.
The mightiest Oak is just a nut who stayed the course.

sscritic
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by sscritic » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:35 pm

About passwords. Even Facebook doesn't let dead people log in.

we also take measures to protect the privacy of the deceased person by securing the account.
...
It is always a violation of our policies to log into another person's account.


I don't think Vanguard is any more lax than Facebook, which often seems to have no privacy policy at all.

peppers
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by peppers » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:56 pm

jebmke wrote:
sscritic wrote:even the one I opened just before I had a heart attack and died slumped over my computer, still logged into my Vanguard account.

The Account Upgrade didn't work for you either?


He was waiting for the confirmation and........
"..the cavalry ain't comin' kid, you're on your own..."

Gnirk
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by Gnirk » Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:01 pm

I have a list of all bank, credit union, financial accounts , health insurance, pensions, etc with the name, account number, address, phone, and contact if any, but no details as to the amounts in the accounts. Also the same for all recurring bills and how they are paid (direct from checking account, credit card, etc) List of credit cards as well. I have not provided usernames or passwords, because they will have to contact the institutions either by phone or mail.
They know where to find the list as well as the keys to the safe deposit box.

ddunca1944
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by ddunca1944 » Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:24 pm

I have a white binder labeled "Will Book". My son knows where it is kept. In it are copies of our wills, Health Care dieectives, P of A's. Also a list of who to call in emergencies, a list of institutions where accounts are located (with accounts numbers), life ins information, SS numbers, a safe deposit box key with the name of the credit union.

In addition, I have a list of automatic transactions (who gets paid, the dats, amount etc). If someone had to take over our finances, that information would be useful.

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pjstack
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by pjstack » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:30 am

Also, it will be useful to list things you DON'T have (but might be expected to). For instance I don't have life insurance, I don't have a brokerage account, I don't have car payments or a mortgage.

This may save your heir(s) from going nuts looking for stuff that they think you probably have. It will put their minds at rest that they haven't overlooked something that may seem "obvious".
pjstack

sscritic
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by sscritic » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:36 am

I don't like plus ones, especially when they are not spelled out, but for pjstack's comment about telling your family what not to worry about because you don't have any of whatever, I say

plus one.

123
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by 123 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:41 am

The pjstack recommendation about what I don't have is extraordinary helpful and can save a lot of searching. I don't have a safe deposit box, I don't have anything stored anywhere else (like a storage locker), I don't have any money hidden in the house or garage, I don't have any valuable items/antiques/collectibles, ...
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celia
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by celia » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:47 am

^^^ Good ideas, pjstack,

Do not give anyone your username and password for assets. That is encouraging them to commit fraud. (Do you expect your executor /trustee to sign in and just have all the assets transferred to your checking account without telling the financial firm?) He/she is supposed to contact the firm first and ask what the current procedure is for closing out someone's account after death. After he/she sends in the death certificate (after ordering several of them), he/she will get his own username and password if he needs it. The financial institution needs to know the date of death as all assets are valued as of that day and may have tax consequences.
A dollar in Roth is worth more than a dollar in a taxable account. A dollar in taxable is worth more than a dollar in a tax-deferred account.

bnes
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by bnes » Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:53 am

In most cases ALL they need is your gmail password.
Seriously: if you have access to a deceased's email, and a list of accounts, you're generally set.

nerdymarketer
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by nerdymarketer » Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:39 am

My wife and I store everything in a secure file. If either of us died, the other person could get into all the accounts. That doesn't mean you could close them down/transfer money, but you would know all the accounts that are out there... and since we use the file all the time, that account list stays updated.

If I were single, I'd write the password in my will or give it to a sibling/parent if you have one that you trust completely.
Last edited by nerdymarketer on Sat Apr 08, 2017 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Professor Emeritus
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by Professor Emeritus » Wed Jul 30, 2014 4:21 am

jebmke wrote:
sscritic wrote:even the one I opened just before I had a heart attack and died slumped over my computer, still logged into my Vanguard account.

The Account Upgrade didn't work for you either?



Widows 8

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runner9
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by runner9 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:25 am

If one dies with accounts at Vanguard this is the best page I found for starting the process:

https://personal.vanguard.com/us/whatweoffer/overview/inherit-account

In my personal experience, the survivor needs the name, last four of SSN, address and zip code for the deceased. If Flagship they will transfer to another department, otherwise the number in the link will help. In my case the person had died 2.5 months ago and after a very short pause Vanguard rep said they'd verified the death through public records and no death certificate or other paperwork proving death needed to be sent.

Bill M
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by Bill M » Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:41 am

I have a white binder called "The Book of Answers" that I bought 30+ years ago (now available at http://www.answersbook.com/). Its heavy stock paper, and has all the subject headings needed and blank space to fill in account locations and account numbers (all in pencil, erased when they move/change). It gets reviewed and updated annually, as one aspect of doing income taxes. I've supplemented the book with printed pages from my excel workbook.

(Edited to include the URL)
Last edited by Bill M on Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

music_man
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by music_man » Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:02 am

I have a simple Excel sheet that contains the Institution, phone number, Web site, what the account is (401k, IRA, Savings, etc), and who the beneficiary is. I printed it out and put it in my parent's safe where they keep the rest of their important docs. I don't include passwords, or usernames, as that seems to be more information than they need to know.

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hoppy08520
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by hoppy08520 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:17 am

pjstack wrote:Also, it will be useful to list things you DON'T have (but might be expected to). For instance I don't have life insurance, I don't have a brokerage account, I don't have car payments or a mortgage.

This may save your heir(s) from going nuts looking for stuff that they think you probably have. It will put their minds at rest that they haven't overlooked something that may seem "obvious".

GREAT idea. I'm going to do that. I'm just trying to think of the things that one might expect us to have that we don't have. Livestock? A boat? Beehives? A buried pot of gold? :confused

I actually do something similar to what pjstack mentioned. We have a Word doc that lists all the accounts that my wife and I have. When an account changes, or if we drop an account, then I strike out (like this) the old account and add a note like "She rollover over the Principal 403(b) account from employer X into Vanguard IRA 9876-1234 on Oct 15, 2007. If you see a file for Principal 403(b), it has been closed." I also leave these notes for gym memberships, credit cards, etc.

This will save the people who go through our files a lot of angst. We still have a folder for Principal 403(b) (maybe we should discard it but I save these for some reason) and if they find it, they won't waste their time and energy trying to get at the account only to find it's closed. Even if we don't have a folder, they mind a stray paper for it and wonder if it's still active.

Rog-Kat
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by Rog-Kat » Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:19 am

I helped my mother put her house in order. Keeping all her "Stuff" in one place. She had a small desk in her bedroom with all her financial paperwork. Checking / savings accounts, blank checks, charge / debit cards and misc. folders with bank information. When she passed, it was easy to FIND everything. I'm planning the same for me.

CAinGA
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by CAinGA » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:56 am

pjstack wrote:Also, it will be useful to list things you DON'T have (but might be expected to). For instance I don't have life insurance, I don't have a brokerage account, I don't have car payments or a mortgage.

This may save your heir(s) from going nuts looking for stuff that they think you probably have. It will put their minds at rest that they haven't overlooked something that may seem "obvious".


Earlier this year, a relative of mine passed away. At one point a few years ago, he’d told me that he was going to leave his estate to me – but that was where the conversation ended. I did not know what his assets were, or have a copy of his Will or Trust.

When I found out he had died, I had to fly across country – with no real idea of what I would find – to search for his will. I was lucky that it was clearly marked on a bookshelf in his apartment. Even after that, though, I had to do a lot of detective work to figure out what assets and obligations he had. I was lucky that my relative had a lot of notes and old bills/statements lying around.

The experience made me think how hard it would be for someone trying to find all our assets if something happened to both me and my partner. A book or list of assets that someone knows about and can access after one's death is critical.

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dbCooperAir
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by dbCooperAir » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:00 am

pjstack wrote:Also, it will be useful to list things you DON'T have (but might be expected to). For instance I don't have life insurance, I don't have a brokerage account, I don't have car payments or a mortgage.

This may save your heir(s) from going nuts looking for stuff that they think you probably have. It will put their minds at rest that they haven't overlooked something that may seem "obvious".



This is great idea, I will add that you toss all the old papers that don't mean anything. We had a family member who kept paper work for every life insurance policy they ever had, some were active some were not, some term, some whole life etc. The insurance folks must have loved this person as we found about a dozen policies, in the end 4 were active and the other 8 were not active. Not a huge deal but we had to sort thru them all to figure it out.
Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him. | -Dwight D. Eisenhower-

kaudrey
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by kaudrey » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:11 am

Gnirk wrote:I have a list of all bank, credit union, financial accounts , health insurance, pensions, etc with the name, account number, address, phone, and contact if any, but no details as to the amounts in the accounts. Also the same for all recurring bills and how they are paid (direct from checking account, credit card, etc) List of credit cards as well. I have not provided usernames or passwords, because they will have to contact the institutions either by phone or mail.
They know where to find the list as well as the keys to the safe deposit box.


I have a similar list - my husband knows where it is in the house (I deal with all of the finances/bill-paying), and my parents have a copy as well.

My father has a similar list, and both myself and my sister knows where it is in his desk drawer.

sunnyday
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by sunnyday » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:26 am

Say someone with a vanguard account passes away and no one knows about the account. How and when will vanguard know that the person no longer exists? How will vanguard track down the beneficiaries listed on the account? If the beneficiaries can't be found what happens to the account balance?

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runner9
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by runner9 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:34 am

Vanguard clearly states that they have no obligation to notify or find descendents of someone who died.
Last edited by runner9 on Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

placeholder
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by placeholder » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:28 am

runner9 wrote:Vanguard clearly states that they have obligation to notify or find descendents of someone who died.

But they have to know the person is deceased.

sunnyday
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by sunnyday » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:34 am

placeholder wrote:
runner9 wrote:Vanguard clearly states that they have obligation to notify or find descendents of someone who died.

But they have to know the person is deceased.


Also, how do they find that person? Say I name my friend John Smith born on 1/1/1960 as my beneficiary. Vanguard doesn't have any other information on him (right?) so how do they track him down?

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runner9
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by runner9 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:23 pm

http://www.vanguard.com/pdf/bdbp.pdf?2210039149

On the 4th page, "Page 2 of 2":

"Note that Vanguard has no obligation to locate your beneficiaries or inform them of their status."

DJInvestor
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by DJInvestor » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:28 pm

After unexpectedly losing my wife last year, with two young adult children ready to launch, I decided to get my "family information" act together.

First, I created a private folder on my Google drive for my updated estate planning documents. I shared access only with my children, the executor of my estate and successor trustees of my revocable trust. Into this folder I placed all estate planning documents (will, trust, POA, HCPOA, advanced directives, etc.) as well as instructions on where to find information on my investment accounts, insurance information (life, disability, homeowners, auto, umbrella) excel files summarizing my accounts (but not account numbers nor balances) my IPS, and several letters of instruction.

Second, I started using Dashlane as my password management system, so all account logins can be accessed by knowing my (very secure) master password. One thing I like about Dashlane is that it also provides the ability to store notes, which I have written to provide duplicate and additional instructions as well as a summary of how to claim insurance, info on HR support at work, a second copy of my IPS, etc. Because Dashlane syncs to a cloud-based storage system, even if my hard copies and hard drives are destroyed, the information still lives in the cloud. Besides my head, the master password is stored in only two places: my bank safe deposit box and my fire-safe. My trusted executor and children know of its existence and where to look, but they cannot access it without my permission unless they break open the fire-safe, which would be a bit obvious.

Third, I have been using Quicken for over 10 years and keep it well curated, so my financial records are in excellent shape and easily accessed if permission is given. My Quicken login information is stored in a secure Dashlane note. Given the extreme granularity of my Quicken records, I have elected not to store a copy in the cloud for security reasons. If all of my hard drives were destroyed in a fire, this information would be lost. I am still evaluating my options for how best to manage this information.

Fourth, I started having family conferences with my kids and my executor to review our family's financial situation and to discuss "what-ifs". They also have to put up with me sharing Boglehead philosophy and receiving surprise gifts of e-books such as Bernstein's "If You Can".

It is hard enough to lose a spouse or a family member without having the added burden of having to sort through mountains of disorganized files. I have now been executor of my father's estate (zero organization, a complete shambles, with a questionable financial adviser pulling lots of strings) and my wife's estate. I am making certain that whoever is executor of my estate will, at the very least, be able to immediately provide for the well-being of my surviving family without delay or difficulty.

sunnyday
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by sunnyday » Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:35 pm

runner9 wrote:http://www.vanguard.com/pdf/bdbp.pdf?2210039149

On the 4th page, "Page 2 of 2":

"Note that Vanguard has no obligation to locate your beneficiaries or inform them of their status."


Oh ok, you left out the "no" in your previous post so that threw me off a bit.

TexasPenny
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Re: How to keep family informed

Post by TexasPenny » Sat Aug 09, 2014 10:32 pm

I think that leaving an organized estate is one of the best gifts you could give your beneficiaries. When my husband's father died they hadn't spoken in 10 years. But when we arrived everyone told us to just get "the briefcase" and everything would be in there. We found bank statements, life insurance information, investment papers and car title. It was all right there and helped us tremendously. If he hadn't had that, I don't know where we would have started. We would have assumed he had nothing and we would have to pay for the funeral and burial. He was living off social security in a small, dirty apartment for $250 in rent and a folding table as a kitchen table. Instead he had a $10,000 life insurance policy and about $80,000 in investments, all with my husband as the beneficiary.

For my parents, my mom has shown me where their paperwork is and I have the name and email address for their financial adviser.

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