How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

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Whakamole
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How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by Whakamole » Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:16 pm

Having helped settle an estate recently, I was fortunate in that I knew where their 401k/IRA/bank accounts were held at. They also received mostly paper statements instead of electronic for knowing who had the mortgage, etc.

That isn't the case for me, and if something happened, my successor trustee may have a hard time. I have assets at a few different places - including Treasury Direct, which doesn't send any statements as far as I know.

I've been thinking that perhaps the best course of action would be to put my original trust in a safety deposit box at my banking institution, and include copies of recent transaction statements from all my financial institutions. I could then refresh the statements once a year, or add/remove them as needed.

I'm curious what my fellow Bogleheads have done.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:50 pm

A safe deposit box is a great place to store things you don't want people to find until long after your death. Because the bank will lock down the box when you die and not open it until your will has been seen by the probate court, and the court generates letters testamentary to your executor, and your executor brings those letters to your bank.

I have a paper copy of my will and trust in a 3 ring binder in the basement, and a list of all accounts in the 3-ring binder next to it. Account numbers and beneficiary listings are in the binders, no statements. What's the big secret? I have a bunch of accounts, but you can't tell how much is in any of them from the binders.

Amphian
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by Amphian » Thu Aug 30, 2018 2:00 pm

I'm actually pondering this for me right now. My documents are in a safe in my apartment (because I knew about the issue with bank deposit boxes), but I need to update the list of assets. I'm thinking about Fidelity's Fidsafe as an option.

aristotelian
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by aristotelian » Thu Aug 30, 2018 2:15 pm

I have a list of all the accounts and account numbers. I used to have a list of passwords but got rid of it as it's really not necessary.

Sidney
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by Sidney » Thu Aug 30, 2018 2:17 pm

I have a notebook in my desk with a lot of these details.

My siblings have the name, address and phone number of my attorney. The attorney keeps an updated list of all of our assets which I send him annually so he can decide if anything in the will is affected.
I always wanted to be a procrastinator.

jebmke
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by jebmke » Thu Aug 30, 2018 2:19 pm

Approximately 100% of our financial assets are in one institution so it is easy. I keep a three ring binder with the annual Household statement going back several years.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

afan
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by afan » Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:29 pm

We have the same people who would act for us under DPOA, as successor trustees and as executors. Each of them has copies of the estate planning documents. I also give them a simple Word file that lists all accounts and account numbers. Everything is electronic, so no paper to preserve. At least one of them, I am sure, uploaded the copies to the cloud, so always available.

We keep one original of the documents (paper since my state does not permit electronic originals) at home and our lawyer parked the other set of originals at a document repository.
The Word file inclues name and contact information for the lawyer and the document company.
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UpperNwGuy
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by UpperNwGuy » Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:29 pm

Amphian wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 2:00 pm
I'm actually pondering this for me right now. My documents are in a safe in my apartment (because I knew about the issue with bank deposit boxes), but I need to update the list of assets. I'm thinking about Fidelity's Fidsafe as an option.
Wouldn't Fidsafe have the same issue as the bank deposit boxes?

Rupert
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by Rupert » Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:41 pm

Note that safe deposit boxes are not sealed after death in every state. In some states, a joint lessee still has access to the box after the death. It's important to research your own state's law.

Whakamole
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by Whakamole » Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:46 pm

UpperNwGuy wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:29 pm
Amphian wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 2:00 pm
I'm actually pondering this for me right now. My documents are in a safe in my apartment (because I knew about the issue with bank deposit boxes), but I need to update the list of assets. I'm thinking about Fidelity's Fidsafe as an option.
Wouldn't Fidsafe have the same issue as the bank deposit boxes?
With Fidsafe, you are supposed to be able to invite your executor/successor trustee, with the idea that when you pass, they know all your documents are stored there (at least electronic versions), so they just need the death certificate to get access to the account.

There are still some problems. They may forget about FIdsafe. Death certificates can take a while to get (weeks), so there can a long turnaround time. YOU may forget about Fidsafe and the documents are now long out of date.

Also as far as storing documents in your home - it is tough to go through the possessions of a deceased loved one. At least in my case, I had to look through many folders to find the car title, real estate information, etc. In the process you end up finding photos, letters, etc. Hopefully not only is everything together, it's exceedingly obvious what and where it is, to the point where a stranger in your home can find the will.

Housedoc
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by Housedoc » Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:49 pm

Vanguard offered a downloadable form where you listed everything you have financial. I included login and passwords. It all is in a small safe in basement and I emailed scanned document to my oldest son, the executor.

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FIREchief
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by FIREchief » Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:20 pm

Housedoc wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:49 pm
Vanguard offered a downloadable form where you listed everything you have financial. I included login and passwords. It all is in a small safe in basement and I emailed scanned document to my oldest son, the executor.
Who has the combination to the safe??

Also, you should not include usernames and passwords. Your executor or trustee will be able to properly access all accounts by working with the custodian. You should never have a situation where a "dead man" is logging into his accounts. That's just asking for trouble.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

RudyS
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by RudyS » Thu Aug 30, 2018 9:10 pm

Rupert wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:41 pm
Note that safe deposit boxes are not sealed after death in every state. In some states, a joint lessee still has access to the box after the death. It's important to research your own state's law.
My state allows early access to the safe deposit box. In reality, very little passes under the will so access shouldn't be urgent. We keep most accounts as JTWROS. Nothing in the safe relates to our IRAs. DW and DS & DD know where to find lists of accounts.

afan
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by afan » Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:33 am

Unfortunately if you want your digital life preserved you do need to give people your account and login information. There are still many online services that will not give access to accounts to survivors, not to spouses, other relatives, trustees or executors. Life has progressed faster than the legal world.

Some states have laws that can help, if your state does not then your heirs can be out of luck. Some of the biggest online companies, Google and Facebook, for example, let you instruct them as to what a designated survivor can do with your accounts. One should take advantage of those options when available. But your other accounts could be lost without a plan to give access to someone who will survive you.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

mouses
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by mouses » Fri Aug 31, 2018 6:11 am

Whakamole wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:16 pm
I've been thinking that perhaps the best course of action would be to put my original trust in a safety deposit box at my banking institution, and include copies of recent transaction statements from all my financial institutions. I could then refresh the statements once a year, or add/remove them as needed.

I'm curious what my fellow Bogleheads have done.
In my safe deposit box, jointly owned by my future executor and which my cu assures me he would have immediate access to in the event of my death, I have my will and trust; a list of my financial accounts; a note with general directions in some detail; powers of attorney; exhaustive financial information including for example IRA RMD history and insurance; a document with id photos and vet info and food and medicine info for my cat (who is also microchipped.)

I also have the document about the cat taped to the front of my refrigerator and an emergency please rescue one cat sticker by my front door.

fourwheelcycle
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by fourwheelcycle » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:15 am

1. Search the internet and learn about zero knowledge cloud security. Here is a starting point: https://www.cloudwards.net/what-exactly ... s-it-work/

2. Go to Sync.com and set up a free 5GB zero knowledge cloud storage account.

3. Set up a target Sync folder on your computer that includes copies your estate documents (my originals are stored in a safe at my attorney's office), a spreadsheet or other listing of your finances and key financial institution contact information, and detailed instructions to your spouse and/or executor that explain your estate setup and what they need to do if you die or become incapacitated. You do not have keep the Sync program running all the time on your computer; you can just turn it on briefly each time you make changes to any of the documents in your target Sync folder.

4. Set up a free zero knowledge Dashlane account and use Dashlane's Emergency Access feature to allow your spouse and/or executor to access a secure note stored in Dashlane that lists your Sync.com log-in information. Here's a description of the feature: https://support.dashlane.com/hc/en-us/a ... -password-

Fidelity's FidSafe feature is similar, but I do not think it is zero knowledge.

letsgobobby
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by letsgobobby » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:37 am

Whakamole wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:16 pm
Having helped settle an estate recently, I was fortunate in that I knew where their 401k/IRA/bank accounts were held at. They also received mostly paper statements instead of electronic for knowing who had the mortgage, etc.

That isn't the case for me, and if something happened, my successor trustee may have a hard time. I have assets at a few different places - including Treasury Direct, which doesn't send any statements as far as I know.

I've been thinking that perhaps the best course of action would be to put my original trust in a safety deposit box at my banking institution, and include copies of recent transaction statements from all my financial institutions. I could then refresh the statements once a year, or add/remove them as needed.

I'm curious what my fellow Bogleheads have done.
annually I update a comprehensive list of all accounts, assets, and debts, with the last three digits of each account number, and a clear description of the owner and beneficiary of each. i give that to my better half and our alternate executor every year.

This list also has the names and contact info of our attorney, our corporate trustee, and the various guardians and POAs in our estate plan.

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munemaker
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by munemaker » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:43 am

Dough Roller has some ideas on this that I have been working to implement:

https://www.doughroller.net/podcast/dr- ... al-binder/

PoppyA
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by PoppyA » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:47 am

I will say having electronic access to information is invaluable to an executor. It takes a while to reconstruct a financial life and having the ability to view a history is very helpful.
“Your labor income makes you rich, not your investments.”

Whakamole
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by Whakamole » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:56 am

PoppyA wrote:
Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:47 am
I will say having electronic access to information is invaluable to an executor. It takes a while to reconstruct a financial life and having the ability to view a history is very helpful.
That was actually one of the things we did first when we realized that time was short. I'm a techie and was given rights per the will to their "digital estate" (yes, this is a real thing), and got the password for their smart phone and primary email account before their passing. From there I was able to reconstruct a lot of what we didn't know, such as looking at emails to see all the recurring services (everything from power/water to Netflix) that would need to be canceled.

Not having this would have made things much more complicated.

Of course if you do have a digital estate provision in your will, you must realize that someone could poke around through your emails.

Housedoc
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by Housedoc » Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:33 am

FIREchief wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:20 pm
Housedoc wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:49 pm
Vanguard offered a downloadable form where you listed everything you have financial. I included login and passwords. It all is in a small safe in basement and I emailed scanned document to my oldest son, the executor.
Who has the combination to the safe??

Also, you should not include usernames and passwords. Your executor or trustee will be able to properly access all accounts by working with the custodian. You should never have a situation where a "dead man" is logging into his accounts. That's just asking for trouble.
A key to the safe is stored in a hiding place that all family members know about. I have openly discussed financial maters with my wife and sons. My sons have become great savers and investors while still being in their 20's. My wife will need help from my sons managing things if I go 1st. I have advised her to go with PAS @ Vanguard to ease her life's decisions. The Vanguard document I referenced is titled "Your Personal Financial Inventory" http://www.vanguard.com/pdf/FM_inventory.pdf

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GerryL
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by GerryL » Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:45 am

I need to follow this discussion. On my to-do list when I return from September travels: Start work on The Book, a notebook of information that my executor/survivors will need to handle my finances, etc. when I am gone. Will likely be useful for when I'm still here if the mind starts leaving before the body.

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FIREchief
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by FIREchief » Fri Aug 31, 2018 12:01 pm

afan wrote:
Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:33 am
Unfortunately if you want your digital life preserved you do need to give people your account and login information. There are still many online services that will not give access to accounts to survivors, not to spouses, other relatives, trustees or executors. Life has progressed faster than the legal world.

Some states have laws that can help, if your state does not then your heirs can be out of luck. Some of the biggest online companies, Google and Facebook, for example, let you instruct them as to what a designated survivor can do with your accounts. One should take advantage of those options when available. But your other accounts could be lost without a plan to give access to someone who will survive you.
House doc specifically said “all things financial,” so that was the context of my comment. I wasn’t referring to google, Facebook or anything like those. There is no way I’m writing down or sharing by brokerage account credentials. To do so would risk the protections I would otherwise have if the account were hacked. If an heir has legal right to access such an account, then they will work with the custodian.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by oldcomputerguy » Fri Aug 31, 2018 12:24 pm

I have a LibreOffice document containing every detail of every account (including mailing addresses, phone numbers, account numbers, usernames, passwords, account purposes, whatever else I could think to load on). The original document file is stored on a USB stick in my safe, and a printed copy is done whenever changes are made, that copy too is stored in the safe. In addition, all our estate paperwork (wills, liviing wills, durable powers of attorney) are stored in the safe. My wife knows where all this is kept, and our executor has a paper document advising her of the location of the documents (including the electronic copy and how to access it) and the combination to the safe. (Oops, just realized, haven't yet provided her with a copy of the front door key. Hm. :oops: )

Nothing essential to settling my estate is stored in the safe deposit box. The executor will not have access to the box immediately, so she would not be able to get the original will documents to begin the process.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

diy60
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by diy60 » Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:08 pm

The old fashioned way; I have our will, POA, healthcare POA, organ donor instructions, etc., in a 3-ring binder on the bookshelf. I've walked the kids thru the book and location. Also included is a separate sheet listing all of our financial institutions, with account types (Roth, IRA, 401K, etc) and ownership (joint or beneficiary), custodian phone number, and related websites. No identifying account info or login info is provided nor is it needed in my opinion. Custodians can look up accounts by SS number. 99% percent of our net worth is either beneficiary or joint, thus bypassing probate. I don't understand why anyone would lock this information in a safe, bank deposit box, or some encrypted cloud service. Maybe I'm glossing over a risk of some sort, but I'm just not getting it right now.

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FIREchief
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by FIREchief » Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:41 pm

A fire safe is a good idea. Media won’t survive, but documents will. A safe deposit box is good for redundant electronic copies.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by Doom&Gloom » Fri Aug 31, 2018 5:11 pm

Wills, POAs, and Health Care POAs: originals in desk at home. Scans on my PC, backed up to external HD at home and external HD in Safe Deposit Box (external HDs rotated every 3-6 months).

Financial info (my IRAs): All statements (including current ones) downloaded and filed on my PC and backed up as above. Login info & passwords are in a KeePass database that only I know the master password for. The master password to that KP database is not written down anywhere; it dies with me or my competency.

Financial info (other): All banking, credit card, and merchant accounts are listed in a different KeePass database which includes all my passwords and DW's passwords--everything but the IRA logins. There are accessible written instructions (at home and in DW's SDB) including the master KP password to that database so that DW (or other survivors) can keep the lights on while dealing with the IRA custodians via phone and snail mail.

If the KeePass database with my IRA logins were compromised, it would be a catastrophe. Having the other KP database compromised might sting, but in the grand scheme of things it would be a relative inconvenience.

afan
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by afan » Sat Sep 01, 2018 10:36 am

I think some are taking a narrow, or at least 19th century, view of "financial" assets. This is based on the assumption that all things that have financial value reside, somewhere, in a bricks and mortar institution that is prepared to respond to a set of documents mailed to them.

Where would you mail those documents to get access to intellectual property stored in the cloud? How about your cryptocurrency?
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

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Sasquatch
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by Sasquatch » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:19 pm

I have a schedule of accounts with my trust. A copy of the trust is in a vault at the attorneys office. I also have a copy at home.

I use 1Password password manager. They have a feature called “emergency kit”. It allows the password file to be recreated on any machine provided they have the master password (which is included in the emergency kit paperwork). This document is in our safe deposit box. Basically all of our accounts are inside the password manager so the executor can recreate our digital life.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:53 pm

But won't your account access be disabled once the financial institution knows you have died? I don't get passing on passwords to executors. They need to know about the accounts, but they shouldn't be logging in as you.

jebmke
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by jebmke » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:02 pm

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:53 pm
But won't your account access be disabled once the financial institution knows you have died? I don't get passing on passwords to executors. They need to know about the accounts, but they shouldn't be logging in as you.
That has been my experience. When my BIL died, his accounts at VG were frozen immediately. Once my spouse was designated as executor and she sent the court document to VG, his account was retitled to an estate account. I can't recall if she had a separate log in for that or whether it was linked to her personal log-in to VG -- I think the latter.

Same with FIL earlier but he did not have online accounts. Nonetheless, his bank froze the account until executor was named by the court and then the bank re-titled the bank account to the estate. My spouse was executor so she was granted access to the account (writing checks to pay for bills) after providing the court documents.
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FIREchief
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by FIREchief » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:04 pm

afan wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 10:36 am
I think some are taking a narrow, or at least 19th century, view of "financial" assets. This is based on the assumption that all things that have financial value reside, somewhere, in a bricks and mortar institution that is prepared to respond to a set of documents mailed to them.

Where would you mail those documents to get access to intellectual property stored in the cloud? How about your cryptocurrency?
I'm guessing this is in response to my earlier post regarding "financial assets." I can't speak for the other posters, but most of us likely don't have intellectual property stored in the cloud or cryptocurrency. My point was (and remains) that for core financial assets (i.e. brokerage accounts and bank accounts), I would never share my online credentials, even to the extent of leaving them to my heirs. I would fully expect my executor and/or successor trustee to simply gain access to the accounts the legal way; by providing evidence of their position to the account custodians. I've diligently cut down on the number of accounts, specifically to make things easier for both myself and my heirs. This in no way precludes leaving usernames and passwords to heirs for all other online accounts such as Facebook, Google, Bogleheads and whatever else somebody might use.

Not sure how I could have made that any clearer. :confused

I haven't a clue how you should go about passing your cryptocurrency to your heirs. One more good reason not to own cryptocurrency.
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celia
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by celia » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:37 pm

I use a spreadsheet which tracks the year-end value of each account and summarizes how much value is in taxable, tax-deferred, and Roth. Although the original intent was to see if we were making progress in our net worth from year to year, it is very helpful for a future executor or trustee as it lists custodians and account numbers too.

I update it before I do taxes and usually use it to be sure I have a tax form from each custodian before I do the taxes. One year I misplaced one of the tax forms and later had to amend the return. So I am more careful now in making sure I have a tax form for each account, not just from each custodian. (Of course, for tax-deferred and Roth accounts, I just need the year-end statement for my paper or digital records.) And as we retired and start pension and SS income streams, that was added so an executor or trustee would know how much income we have coming in for living expenses, should we end up with cognitive issues while still living. Then we print this out and save a copy each year with our estate planning papers.

afan wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 10:36 am
I think some are taking a narrow, or at least 19th century, view of "financial" assets. This is based on the assumption that all things that have financial value reside, somewhere, in a bricks and mortar institution that is prepared to respond to a set of documents mailed to them.

Where would you mail those documents to get access to intellectual property stored in the cloud? How about your cryptocurrency?
If you have a copyright or trademark or such (youtube videos?), your executor or trustee will need to know not just where they are, but what you want done with them after you're gone. They may have to defend you/your heirs' rights to receive the income you would be owed, represent you in lawsuits (such as infringement or defamation), and possibly pay taxes on the income.

Cryptocurrency is stored in an account with a custodian. You can't just walk around with it in your wallet. Its value changes continuously, more so than stocks (which only trade for limited hours on only 5 days of the week). It has to be tracked by a custodian so the owner knows what the value is when he/she spends it.

You can at least list these (and your real estate, cars) in the spreadsheet without values. Just use it as a way of tracking what you own, at a minimum.

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Sasquatch
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by Sasquatch » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:51 pm

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:53 pm
But won't your account access be disabled once the financial institution knows you have died? I don't get passing on passwords to executors. They need to know about the accounts, but they shouldn't be logging in as you.
Point well made, thanks for pointing that out.I also do this for the benefit of my spouse. I now understand accounts held in my name or spouses name only 401k etc. won't be accessable through the traditional means but through the Trust process. However, we do hold accounts that are JTROS thats where the passwords would come in handy. I guess that is the only way this will be of any benefit. If we both pass at the same time I guess all bets are off and it goes back to account numbers detailed in the trust.

I am going to keep watching this thread. Good learning opportunity for me.

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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by tibbitts » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:07 pm

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:53 pm
But won't your account access be disabled once the financial institution knows you have died? I don't get passing on passwords to executors. They need to know about the accounts, but they shouldn't be logging in as you.
First, my experience has been that nobody at institutions constantly monitors account holders to make sure they're still alive.

In theory you are correct that nobody should log on as you. However, it's often just the outcome of a transition. First, you help out someone who's gotten to the point where they can't log to do transactions easily, or eventually at all, by themselves. You need to do that to help them pay bills, etc. Then it's not like when they die you want to let bills go unpaid for months and months and incur huge penalties while you work through the estate. Unless you log onto some accounts you won't even know what the bills are that need to be paid. It could take hours to pay a bill the legally proper way, including establishing your authority over the account - an account you could pay in two minutes online. You might have dozens of bills that need to be paid every month, and this is probably going to be a difficult time for everyone involved, so I really think practicality has to factor in here.

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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by livesoft » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:26 pm

Does one even need to have the account numbers in the stored documents? Isn't it simply enough to have the institution and title of the account?

I guess I need to do something about this. I think I will make a photocopy of the top part of a statement from every account that I have without any of the dollar amounts and just put these things away with the wills. Also, I will note that we don't have life insurance, so don't go looking for it.
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by FIREchief » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:43 pm

livesoft wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:26 pm
Does one even need to have the account numbers in the stored documents? Isn't it simply enough to have the institution and title of the account?
I've been told by at least one major brokerage that somebody approaching them as a beneficiary needs to have the account number(s).
Also, I will note that we don't have life insurance, so don't go looking for it.
This is a great point, and one that rarely comes up in these threads. I've also documented for my heirs things I used to own but no longer do (specifically, so they don't waste time looking for them). This includes cancelled life insurance, cancelled credit cards, cancelled brokerage accounts, cashed in savings bonds, etc.
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by exoilman » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:53 pm

reference

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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by FIREchief » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:57 pm

tibbitts wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:07 pm
NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:53 pm
But won't your account access be disabled once the financial institution knows you have died? I don't get passing on passwords to executors. They need to know about the accounts, but they shouldn't be logging in as you.
First, my experience has been that nobody at institutions constantly monitors account holders to make sure they're still alive.

In theory you are correct that nobody should log on as you. However, it's often just the outcome of a transition. First, you help out someone who's gotten to the point where they can't log to do transactions easily, or eventually at all, by themselves. You need to do that to help them pay bills, etc. Then it's not like when they die you want to let bills go unpaid for months and months and incur huge penalties while you work through the estate. Unless you log onto some accounts you won't even know what the bills are that need to be paid. It could take hours to pay a bill the legally proper way, including establishing your authority over the account - an account you could pay in two minutes online. You might have dozens of bills that need to be paid every month, and this is probably going to be a difficult time for everyone involved, so I really think practicality has to factor in here.
You two seem to be talking about two different things. NotWhoYouThink mentioned "financial institution," and correctly notes that nobody should be logging in under somebody else's username/password. tibbitts is talking about accessing and paying online bills. I assume this would be things like credit cards, utilities, insurance, etc, where the company likely doesn't care how a bill is being paid, as long as it IS being paid. Now, I understand that money is needed to pay bills, but that's a different discussion involving POA, trusts, etc.

If things are autopaid from a trust owned checking account, there will likely be much less to attend to immediately.
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by celia » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:32 pm

tibbitts wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:07 pm
First, you help out someone who's gotten to the point where they can't log to do transactions easily, or eventually at all, by themselves. You need to do that to help them pay bills, etc

... and this is probably going to be a difficult time for everyone involved, so I really think practicality has to factor in here.
Why aren't the monthly bills set up to automatically withdraw from an account? You can set that up without even owning a computer, just as you can set up automatic deposit of paychecks and SS. Encouraging someone to go online to pay bills who doesn't normally use a computer is asking for problems (not to imply that is your situation). Problems include: posting passwords nearby, not logging off the account, falling for scams, going to a dummy look-alike website.

That is the practical way to handle it. Then, when they die, the utilities and the credit card payments can at least continue. It becomes a one-time task instead of something they have to repeat each month.

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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by celia » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:55 pm

Sasquatch wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:51 pm
I now understand accounts held in my name or spouses name only 401k etc. won't be accessable through the traditional means but through the Trust process.
Retirement accounts are not controlled (or owned) by your trust or trustee. When you die, the beneficiary or your Durable Power of Attorney will be able to access them. If they are at an investment firm, you will want to use the custodian's agent authorization form (or whatever they call it) if you want someone (even a spouse) to see or transact on your individual accounts while you are living.
However, we do hold accounts that are JTROS thats where the passwords would come in handy. I guess that is the only way this will be of any benefit.
I'm not sure why you're bringing up passwords. If your spouse is a joint owner, he/she has legal access to the account while you are living (even now) or after you die. And you each have different passwords that you don't share with each other, right? (Sharing voids the agreement you have with the custodian. If you want them to maintain the security of your accounts, you have to do your part, which includes not sharing passwords.)
If we both pass at the same time I guess all bets are off and it goes back to account numbers detailed in the trust.
The trust shouldn't have account numbers in it since you could get new account numbers, even if you do nothing to the account yourself (like upgrade to Vanguard's brokerage account). I've been with several custodians who re-assigned account numbers when they were upgrading their technology.

To identify what the trust owns, the account(s) should be re-titled in the name of the trust. Other assests can be listed as an attachment to the trust. The list can be changed or replaced at any time without having to amend the trust. Doing this will make life much easier for the successor trustee when you are both gone or incapacitated.

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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by Tamales » Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:17 pm

celia wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:32 pm
Why aren't the monthly bills set up to automatically withdraw from an account? You can set that up without even owning a computer, just as you can set up automatic deposit of paychecks and SS.

That is the practical way to handle it...
It's the idealistic, but not always realistic way to handle it.
Not every payee provides autobilling to financial institutions. If you have even one that doesn't you still need manual intervention via the financial accounts.

You set these all up from within the person's, let's say your mom's, financial account. So you do need access to mom's financial accounts to do it.

Even if you could enable autopay for all, you still have to regularly transfer money into this account from another financial account, to cover the bills, and the amount isn't constant since some bills like utilities vary widely over the year. So it's yet another action (or series of actions since the pay dates are probably spread through the month, from within mom's financial account).

And if dad has passed away, and the majority of the accounts were in dad's name, that's another hurdle to clear for setting up access, and the ease of clearing it varies from payee to payee. And it's even more complicated if the adult child helping mom is located in a different state.

If you want the payee to do an ACH pull from mom's bank account, again not all are set up to do that, and even if they are, you again have to jump through hoops to set up the account in mom's name to enable it in the first place. If mom is incapacitated and cannot go in, in person, to confirm it's OK to let you set up this account, more hurdles that vary by payee.

The bottom line is that while your situation may work out in the idealistic way, it's not the case for everyone. There are lots of variations across payees--some bordering on ridiculous--but they do exist. I don't know why this would be surprising.

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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by afan » Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:28 pm

Having automated payments just avoids the need to write a bunch of checks. As noted, there is still work to be done.

I cannot think of a reason to omit account numbers, the DPOA, executor or trustee will need this information. Why make life difficult for them?
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by FIREchief » Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:30 pm

celia wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:55 pm
Sasquatch wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:51 pm
I now understand accounts held in my name or spouses name only 401k etc. won't be accessable through the traditional means but through the Trust process.
Retirement accounts are not controlled (or owned) by your trust or trustee. When you die, the beneficiary or your Durable Power of Attorney will be able to access them. If they are at an investment firm, you will want to use the custodian's agent authorization form (or whatever they call it) if you want someone (even a spouse) to see or transact on your individual accounts while you are living.
DPOA dies with a person. I'm guessing you meant to say executor. Also, if a qualified trust is the beneficiary of a retirement account, then it would be that trust's trustee.
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by tibbitts » Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:18 pm

celia wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:32 pm
tibbitts wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:07 pm
First, you help out someone who's gotten to the point where they can't log to do transactions easily, or eventually at all, by themselves. You need to do that to help them pay bills, etc

... and this is probably going to be a difficult time for everyone involved, so I really think practicality has to factor in here.
Why aren't the monthly bills set up to automatically withdraw from an account? You can set that up without even owning a computer, just as you can set up automatic deposit of paychecks and SS. Encouraging someone to go online to pay bills who doesn't normally use a computer is asking for problems (not to imply that is your situation). Problems include: posting passwords nearby, not logging off the account, falling for scams, going to a dummy look-alike website.

That is the practical way to handle it. Then, when they die, the utilities and the credit card payments can at least continue. It becomes a one-time task instead of something they have to repeat each month.
In the case I had to be responsible for, most accounts were auto-pay, but some did not have that mechanism available. In my own case I tend to have auto-pay accounts for utilities (with bank draft) but not for credit cards, because I've had cases where fraud transaction have occurred that would have created overdraft issues. Not all auto-pay mechanisms have an easy way to prevent overdrawing accounts. But at some point I will likely do more auto-pay. Remember that not everybody starts out having difficulty paying bills with a computer or any other way, it's something that comes on gradually, and I like having someone else able to access my accounts if I can't, even for just some temporary reason. In my case I accomplish that primarily with a password manager, although I haven't yet documented everything I have to (challenge questions for example) for every account in a password manager vs. the encrypted file I used for years, and some accounts force 2F that's difficult to share with another person. In any case when the time comes I want to make everything as easy as possible for my designated person to take care of my finances and from my own experience it will make their life much easier if they have as much immediate online access as possible.

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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by afan » Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:32 pm

2FA is definitely a problem.
We are doing more and more auto pay. Not because we are slipping, but it is one less thing to deal with.
I have documented all my challenge questions in my password manager.
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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Sat Sep 01, 2018 6:21 pm

Maybe they don't monitor it closely, but it seems that a bank may be suspicious if you report that Aunt Tilly died a week ago, but they can see that Tilly logged into her account and conducted transactions yesterday.

Assuming the decedent left behind funds to close out the estate, it isn't that hard to do things the right way first, and there isn't much harm that can happen in waiting. The utilities don't get cut off immediately. And if the decedent didn't leave enough money to close out the estate, raiding the accounts isn't going to solve that problem. A TOD account can be handled immediately as soon as the death certificate is available. An account with no beneficiary listed becomes an estate account, and it usually doesn't take long for the probate court to certify the executor or PR. Nothing is going to go into collections in the time it takes to get that done.

I do see the wisdom in listing account numbers, although a list of the account names may work as well. We have 6 accounts at Vanguard, including inherited IRAs. Probably Vanguard would get that right, but an executor with a list of account numbers would make sure everything was accounted for. Logon information and passwords die with the owner, as does POA.

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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by 2015 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 6:24 pm

afan wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:28 pm
Having automated payments just avoids the need to write a bunch of checks. As noted, there is still work to be done.

I cannot think of a reason to omit account numbers, the DPOA, executor or trustee will need this information. Why make life difficult for them?
Wholeheartedly agree.

As one who just served as executor, having all account information including numbers greatly simplified things. Setting all of this up well in advance allowed me to clean out the personal effects, settle and close all but a couple of accounts in just 4 1/2 days. In most cases, I simply presented the death certificate and will. Interestingly, not a single institution asked for an original death certificate copy. It helped that no real property was owned and that the estate was quite simple.

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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by tibbitts » Sat Sep 01, 2018 6:39 pm

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 6:21 pm
Maybe they don't monitor it closely, but it seems that a bank may be suspicious if you report that Aunt Tilly died a week ago, but they can see that Tilly logged into her account and conducted transactions yesterday.
Well they might notice, but I'm not sure they'd be either concerned or surprised as long as nobody objected to the transactions. That was my experience with banks. Similarly they will find various automatic transactions that occur after death; I'm not sure the result is much different.

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Re: How do you store financial account information with your estate plan?

Post by randomizer » Sat Sep 01, 2018 6:42 pm

I worry about this too. Currently trying to consolidate accounts as a starting point.
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