No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

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absolute zero
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No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by absolute zero »

I am unmarried. No children. No dependents of any sort. 28 years old. I've never made a will. I've always figured that someday when/if I get married, I'll make a will and buy a life insurance policy. But until then, why bother? In the state of Texas, my money would pass on to my 2 living parents. That's just fine with me.

But recently I started thinking about this a bit more. My net worth just crossed the $500k mark. My parents know that I save money but don't know any more specifics other than that. They don't know what types of accounts I have, which banks I have them with, etc. So if I die tomorrow, how would they know where to find them? How would they figure out that I have a brokerage account with Vanguard, a savings account with Barclays, a 401k with Fidelity, a couple accounts with USAA, etc etc?

Would it make sense to just give my parents a list of all my accounts and their account numbers? That way if anything happened to me they could track everything down.
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absolute zero
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by absolute zero »

I was considering making a list like described above and placing it in my gun safe. My father has a backup key to the safe and I could just tell him that if anything happens to me, he can find a list of all my bank accounts there. BUT....something about having a list of all my accounts sitting right next to my social security card and my passport (which are also in my safe) makes me nervous. Just seems like if someone managed to break into my safe, they would not only have the tickets to identity theft, but also have a list of all my financial accounts to boot.
vaught
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by vaught »

I don't see any harm in giving them such a list so long as you trust them.

It's also a good time to take a second look at who you have listed as your beneficiaries on each account. Regardless if you have a will or, since you don't have a will, regardless of what Texas intestacy laws state, your bank/life insurance company/brokerage company will only pay to your listed beneficiary. They have a contract with you and that is what controls regardless of any will or estate laws. There's a million stories about ex-spouses being left as beneficiaries on old accounts.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by Katietsu »

Would it make sense to just give my parents a list of all my accounts and their account numbers? That way if anything happened to me they could track everything down.
Yes. Or you can make the list and tell them where to find it if needed. I would also consider what information someone should need if you were incapacitated, even temporarily.
codedude
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by codedude »

Also create a durable power of attorney and healthcare proxy and give to them.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by bh7785 »

I'm in a similar position as you, and here is what I do.

Once a year I compile a brief list of all my accounts, and approximately how much money is in them. I give this to my parents. That way, they at least know where everything is, and about how much to expect if something were to ever happen to me. I have made sure that my father is the beneficiary of all of my accounts as well. Most of these you can just fill out online. I also just made a simple will online and had a couple of witnesses sign it. One copy remains with my parents, one in my office.

Lastly, to ensure they can access the accounts directly in the event of my demise, I gave them the password to my dropbox account. Inside this is an encrypted password store, detailing every financial account I have and how to access it. They have the password for this as well. The nice thing about this is that I get notified whenever dropbox is accessed by an unrecognized computer.
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Pajamas
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by Pajamas »

robert27 wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:17 am Would it make sense to just give my parents a list of all my accounts and their account numbers? That way if anything happened to me they could track everything down.
Here's a good list of documents:

viewtopic.php?t=198919
gotester2000
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by gotester2000 »

Make a brief list of your accounts and let your father know about it - no need to write balances - update yearly/any additions. Have a beneficiary on each account. Your assets will go to your heirs - the least for them to do is to claim them.
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Watty
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by Watty »

Retirement accounts should have a named beneficiary that will control who gets the accounts if you die, be sure to have your parents named on these since that would make your estate a lot easier to settle and make it easier for your parents to receive them as an inherited IRA and not risk having to withdraw and pay taxes on all the money. The beneficiary on the account normally supersedes what any will says so be sure to keep these up to date if you ever get married or have kids or a prior beneficiary dies.

When you have a will made up there are a number of other documents that are done at the same time for things like power of attorney, medical instructions, and things like that. These are still very important to you since with all the medical privacy laws if you are unconscious and in the hospital the doctors may be very limited in what they can even talk about with your parents about much less what they can let your parents decide on your behalf. There will also be things like your directives on when you do or don't want them to "pull the plug" if you are badly hurt and unlikely to recover.

If you are disabled then in some situations the state might assign an expensive lawyer to manage your finances for you instead of your parents.

In fairness I have known some people that have a lot of family drama in their lives and it is not always obvious that the parents, or the adult kids, are the best people to take over for a family member in an emergency.

Anyway what paperwork you need will vary some by state so you need to research this and get the appropriate paperwork and make sure that your parents know where it is at in case of an emergency. I have not used it but there is will making software that you can sometime even check out at a library that should also have the documents that are needed in your state.

You should also talk with your parents to about having them draw up the same documents in case something happens like they are both hurt in a car wreck and you need to help them out.

In addition to your financial accounts they will also need to take care of paying your bills if you are laid up in the hospital. I am in a different situation but I have made sure that I still get paper bills by snail mail so they could be used to make sure that things still get paid in an emergency.
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Watty
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by Watty »

bh7785 wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:38 am Lastly, to ensure they can access the accounts directly in the event of my demise, I gave them the password to my dropbox account. Inside this is an encrypted password store, detailing every financial account I have and how to access it. They have the password for this as well. The nice thing about this is that I get notified whenever dropbox is accessed by an unrecognized computer.
Storing the passwords like this is a very bad idea since if your account ever gets hacked, even by some other means, then you may have violated the financial institutions rules and they may not reimburse you.

Having your parents sign on with your password and make any transactions, especially after you die, may very well be illegal.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by oldcomputerguy »

robert27 wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:17 am Would it make sense to just give my parents a list of all my accounts and their account numbers? That way if anything happened to me they could track everything down.
Assuming you trust them (and I do assume you do), it absolutely does make sense. That's exactly what I have done here, I've created a written document with account names, URL's, usernames, passwords, account numbers, contact addresses, for every online account and brick-and-mortar merchant we do any business with. Printed out, it's about thirty-plus pages long. The document file lives on a USB stick, and that (plus a printed copy) lives in the home safe. My wife knows where to find it, as does our executor.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by BolderBoy »

robert27 wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:17 amWould it make sense to just give my parents a list of all my accounts and their account numbers? That way if anything happened to me they could track everything down.
At the very least you should set up every asset you have as a POD/BOD/TOD if it is permitted by your state. So all your financial assets should be POD/BOD to someone and anything with a deed or title (real estate and automobile) should be TOD to someone, again, if your state allows for it.

After that a Will will be mostly as a catch-all bucket for anything you missed.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by lthenderson »

Having any sort of document with all my account numbers and passwords would make me nervous. It is only as safe as the least careful person you give it too and the ramifications to losing this information can be quite large.

As long as the OP has the beneficiary filled out and the beneficiary knows they are the beneficiary and the name of the financial institution where the asset is located, I'm assuming a notarized death certificate is all that is needed to obtain the asset?
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by gretah »

OP

I agree with the others on getting a will and other essential documents in place and in using Transfer on Death for real estate and Payment on Death for bank accounts.

Take a look at the book "10 Ways to Avoid Probate" published by Nolo.com These tools make things much easier for your parents.
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marti038
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by marti038 »

With a net worth of $500,000, IMHO, you should at least have a will in place. Even if your estate would go to your parents you should have some sort of secondary beneficiary written down.

As far as giving them information, it's up to you. I've been asked to serve as executor for the estates of two older relatives and agreed to it before I thought about how much of a pain it might be. As I started thinking about what sorts of things I wanted them to have in place to make the job easier on me after they pass, it made sense to get my own estate in order.

Every year I give my executor an updated document with account numbers, passwords, security questions, etc (Note: it is a fill in the blank form that I never save or send electronically). He locks it in his safe (which is more secure than anything I own) and there it sits with my will until one of us dies. He also knows where to find important legal documents at my house. You may not be comfortable doing this, but it would make life easier on your executor.
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Watty
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by Watty »

lthenderson wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:12 am Having any sort of document with all my account numbers and passwords would make me nervous. It is only as safe as the least careful person you give it too and the ramifications to losing this information can be quite large.
+1000

From the Vanguard website(my emphasis)
Your vanguard.com password should not be:

Written down, stored unencrypted on your computer or mobile device, or shared with anyone.

https://investor.vanguard.com/security/credentials

Most home safes are ridiculously easy to break into too.
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billthecat
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by billthecat »

For inheritance, you can just designate beneficiaries for your accounts. That will transfer assets to them without the need for a will. For other stuff, of course (like real estate), you'd want a will. If you die without a will or designated beneficiaries for accounts then your assets would transfer according to state law (most likely, in your case, to you parents).

As for communicating information about your accounts, there are a few ways. A number of cloud-based password managers include a service to notify designated people about your passwords (and account info). Basically they check with you periodically to make sure you're still alive and if not they send the info.

You could also simply give the information to other people electronically but encrypt it, and just give them the key when you die. So that way the data and the key are separated. The encrypted file is useless without the key, and the key is useless without the data. (You could share the encrypted file a number of ways, such as cloud based file sharing (iCloud, Box, Dropbox, etc., etc.) or on a USB flash drive.) As for the key, that can be stored on paper, on another USB key, or automatically sent out such as by the cloud-based password manager, or from your own computer automatically unless you cancel it. (On a Mac for example you could create a calendar event that emails out the key on a certain date, and just keep pushing out the date. It works but it's also cumbersome.)
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by aristotelian »

If you die with no executor and no next of kin, you will be creating a problem for your beneficiaries even if they are named as TOD on the accounts. There will be nobody to sign the death certificate and your body will stay in the morgue and accounts will be frozen. Eventually the court will appoint a random lawyer to handle your affairs. Even if you want to name a charity as your beneficiary, you will be doing them a big disservice by not naming an executor.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by LarryAllen »

You might be to the point that a trust is worthwhile in addition to will, poa, health care, etc.... It's not as good as a pre-nup but should you get married you would then turn off additions to the trust. You would put the pre-marriage trust aside. Should divorce happen you have a pretty clear indication, with no threat of commingling, as to what your pre-marriage assets were.

Also, I am a big proponent of making a list of financial institutions. Account numbers is fine but balances are not needed. Plus, add any other contacts your parents should know of. It makes life a touch easier at the hardest moment of life.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by Rager1 »

You actually do have a will. The laws of the state where you reside determine what happens to your estate at your death.

Unless you prepare your own will, the state's laws apply.

I highly recommend you hire an attorney to establish will, power of attorney, and advance medical directive.

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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by arf1410 »

Watty wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:50 am
lthenderson wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:12 am Having any sort of document with all my account numbers and passwords would make me nervous. It is only as safe as the least careful person you give it too and the ramifications to losing this information can be quite large.
+1000

From the Vanguard website(my emphasis)
Your vanguard.com password should not be:

Written down, stored unencrypted on your computer or mobile device, or shared with anyone.


https://investor.vanguard.com/security/credentials

Most home safes are ridiculously easy to break into too.
About 15 years ago, I decided to get rid of my bank safe deposit box, and purchase a home safe. Before doing so, I talked with my homeowners insurance agent, who had worked in the field for 30+ years. He stated he had never had a claim from a client who had any sort of loss from a hone safe. Can you provide a link or other information to support your claim that home safes aren't really safe?
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Watty
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by Watty »

arf1410 wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:09 am Can you provide a link or other information to support your claim that home safes aren't really safe?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8ViUdd-2LM

If possible it is also common for thieves to take a safe with them and break into it at their leisure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZumcIgfR34

One time I was walking down a street and saw one on the sidewalk but it was a smaller one that looked like it only took a couple of wacks with a sledgehammer to open.

If you wanted to be more "high tech" the electronic ones can be even easier to open.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3p5KUNfDG0

There are lots more videos that show how easy it is to break into a safe.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by tmn »

arf1410 wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:09 am About 15 years ago, I decided to get rid of my bank safe deposit box, and purchase a home safe. Before doing so, I talked with my homeowners insurance agent, who had worked in the field for 30+ years. He stated he had never had a claim from a client who had any sort of loss from a hone safe. Can you provide a link or other information to support your claim that home safes aren't really safe?
Context is everything. If you live in a safe area, and safe community, keep things reasonably discreet, lock your safe, etc. Your security is relatively high. However, it is easy to see how that system could break down, so some people naturally fear. They prefer to trust the obfuscation of a system beyond their control. They then compare against hypothetical. I.E. Home safes are easy for safe crackers to break into. Well sure, but what is the chance that a safe cracker ever targets your safe?

Security is never absolute.

You will never be at a loss to find someone who can't imagine taking their security into their own hands. But don't let that stop you. I suspect I'm just preaching to the choir though.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by dm200 »

robert27 wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:17 am I am unmarried. No children. No dependents of any sort. 28 years old. I've never made a will. I've always figured that someday when/if I get married, I'll make a will and buy a life insurance policy. But until then, why bother? In the state of Texas, my money would pass on to my 2 living parents. That's just fine with me.
But recently I started thinking about this a bit more. My net worth just crossed the $500k mark. My parents know that I save money but don't know any more specifics other than that. They don't know what types of accounts I have, which banks I have them with, etc. So if I die tomorrow, how would they know where to find them? How would they figure out that I have a brokerage account with Vanguard, a savings account with Barclays, a 401k with Fidelity, a couple accounts with USAA, etc etc?
Would it make sense to just give my parents a list of all my accounts and their account numbers? That way if anything happened to me they could track everything down.
Do you have sibling(s) or any other relatives that you might wish to receive finds upon your death? POD/TOD could have "unintended consequences" if, for example, sibling dies and he/she had deserving children.

I do recommend a list (not necessary to have amounts) so in the result of your untimely death - the accounts could be found.
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absolute zero
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by absolute zero »

aristotelian wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:56 am If you die with no executor and no next of kin, you will be creating a problem for your beneficiaries even if they are named as TOD on the accounts. There will be nobody to sign the death certificate and your body will stay in the morgue and accounts will be frozen. Eventually the court will appoint a random lawyer to handle your affairs. Even if you want to name a charity as your beneficiary, you will be doing them a big disservice by not naming an executor.
Do I need to create a will in order to name an executor? Maybe spending a hundred bucks is worth it then. I've never really done much research on a will because, again, I always figured that's the kind of thing you do when you get married and/or have some dependents. Maybe it's time for me to start learning about wills.
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absolute zero
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by absolute zero »

lthenderson wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:12 am Having any sort of document with all my account numbers and passwords would make me nervous. It is only as safe as the least careful person you give it too and the ramifications to losing this information can be quite large.

As long as the OP has the beneficiary filled out and the beneficiary knows they are the beneficiary and the name of the financial institution where the asset is located, I'm assuming a notarized death certificate is all that is needed to obtain the asset?
This was my initial thought too. I typed up a list of all my financial institutions, account types (eg 401k, Roth, etc) along with their respective account numbers. Just before I hit the print button I got nervous and wondered what kind of damage someone could do if they had my name, social security number, date of birth, and a list of all my bank accounts (since my social security card and passport sit inside the safe too). I have a (low end) gun safe and a monitored alarm system, but still the risk is there. I was the victim of a home burglary about 5 years ago (different home but same city...no alarm system at the time). I think that experience makes me a little bit more wary.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by dm200 »

robert27 wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:51 am
aristotelian wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:56 am If you die with no executor and no next of kin, you will be creating a problem for your beneficiaries even if they are named as TOD on the accounts. There will be nobody to sign the death certificate and your body will stay in the morgue and accounts will be frozen. Eventually the court will appoint a random lawyer to handle your affairs. Even if you want to name a charity as your beneficiary, you will be doing them a big disservice by not naming an executor.
Do I need to create a will in order to name an executor? Maybe spending a hundred bucks is worth it then. I've never really done much research on a will because, again, I always figured that's the kind of thing you do when you get married and/or have some dependents. Maybe it's time for me to start learning about wills.
Years ago, we were told that one benefit of a will is that in a will you can name the executor and say that no 'bond' need be paid - could be a lot.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by nisiprius »

If you die without a will, the things that happen automatically may be acceptable to you but they may cost the people who inherit the money time, trouble, and quite possibly four or five figures in legal fees. Don't mess around. Also, if you haven't done it already, make sure your parents are named as beneficiaries on your 401(k) and on anything else you have that allows you to name beneficiaries.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by aristotelian »

robert27 wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:51 am
aristotelian wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:56 am If you die with no executor and no next of kin, you will be creating a problem for your beneficiaries even if they are named as TOD on the accounts. There will be nobody to sign the death certificate and your body will stay in the morgue and accounts will be frozen. Eventually the court will appoint a random lawyer to handle your affairs. Even if you want to name a charity as your beneficiary, you will be doing them a big disservice by not naming an executor.
Do I need to create a will in order to name an executor? Maybe spending a hundred bucks is worth it then. I've never really done much research on a will because, again, I always figured that's the kind of thing you do when you get married and/or have some dependents. Maybe it's time for me to start learning about wills.
Yes. IMO, that is the most important thing you can do, especially if you don't have kids or next of kin. (My uncle-by-marriage died intestate, leaving his accounts to my kids as TOD beneficiaries, but his body stayed in the mortuary and the accounts were frozen for about 6 months until we could get a lawyer to be appointed by the court as executor. Only then was the body released for cremation and death certificate completed).

You can do a simple will online and get it notarized.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by gotester2000 »

lthenderson wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:12 am Having any sort of document with all my account numbers and passwords would make me nervous. It is only as safe as the least careful person you give it too and the ramifications to losing this information can be quite large.

As long as the OP has the beneficiary filled out and the beneficiary knows they are the beneficiary and the name of the financial institution where the asset is located, I'm assuming a notarized death certificate is all that is needed to obtain the asset?
+Many

I am always wonder struck why people make their life so complicated. 99% of data leakage is not because the system security was compromised rather due to the improper usage of the system by its users.

Why do you want to have documents detailing all login information? It is unsafe and even if you give that data the beneficiary has to get the assets transferred to him legally - not through online money transfer. It is sufficient to just list the account information plus much safer.

The beneficiary is supposed to be an adult/guardian for minor who anyway should have some money in his account till he can get the inheritance.

Lastly as important as to whether you trust somebody with your crucial data is the point whether that person understands the importance of that data and does not get conned by a third party to reveal it - while you are still alive!!!
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by susa »

robert27 wrote: So if I die tomorrow, how would they know where to find them?
Use Google Death
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by wfrobinette »

robert27 wrote: Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:17 am I am unmarried. No children. No dependents of any sort. 28 years old. I've never made a will. I've always figured that someday when/if I get married, I'll make a will and buy a life insurance policy. But until then, why bother? In the state of Texas, my money would pass on to my 2 living parents. That's just fine with me.

But recently I started thinking about this a bit more. My net worth just crossed the $500k mark. My parents know that I save money but don't know any more specifics other than that. They don't know what types of accounts I have, which banks I have them with, etc. So if I die tomorrow, how would they know where to find them? How would they figure out that I have a brokerage account with Vanguard, a savings account with Barclays, a 401k with Fidelity, a couple accounts with USAA, etc etc?

Would it make sense to just give my parents a list of all my accounts and their account numbers? That way if anything happened to me they could track everything down.
What happens if your parents die before you do? Or you all die at the same time?

Get a simple will (you can name any future spouse or children as beneficiaries as well as your parents, siblings, friends or charity in any order you wish. That way you don't have to update the will for each life event.) medical power of attorney, living will etc. All of this can be had for ~ $500 or less and it will simplify the probate process if you meet your untimely demise.

Write down all institutions and type of account and give them to your parents. No need for account numbers, passwords, etc. as those can be obtained quite easily with a death certificate and a will.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by Clever_Username »

This thread has really gotten me thinking. I also don't have a will, mid-30s, estimate networth at about $500k if we include approximate house value and approximate mortgage owed money. My Vanguard account (including IRAs and 403(b) and not-tax-advantaged accounts) is more than half that networth, beneficiaries are set as my mom, dad, and sister, in that order. I don't know what would happen to my house if I died (only name on deed, only name on mortgage). I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that it would go to someone in that list. I remember a radio ad for LegalZoom a few years ago saying if you died in California without a will, all your money would go to Donald Sterling. I am pretty sure that was hyperbole, but I shouldn't risk something I don't want happening to occur. Nisi's warning above that, even if exactly what you want happens, it will cause additional stress and issues for those involved, is well noted too.

I guess my to-do list just got "make a will" added to it. Thank you, OP, for bringing this up.
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Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by mouses »

Home safe - it is easier for me to keep copies of important documents in a safe deposit box, plus they are offsite in case the house burns down or whatever.

I had a revocable living trust, will, power of attorney for healthcare (includes provisions of a living will) and power of attorney for finances made up when I acquired a pet in my thirties and thought, what happens to him if I croak. It astonishes me that people with kids sometimes do not have wills, or life insurance.
SimonJester
Posts: 2173
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: No will. What happens to my accounts if I die?

Post by SimonJester »

One compromise to listing account and account numbers is to create the account list and leave off the account numbers.
Example:
Checking Account at Bank XYZ
Savings Account at Bank XYZ
Roth IRA at ABC

This way if someone gets a hold of that list the actual account numbers are not exposed. Your heirs can contact each bank from there and deal with your affairs.

I would also list out any life insurance and perhaps how your major bills are paid each month. This will especially usefully in this day of electronic bills where you may never get a physical bill in the mail.
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin
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