So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Skiffy
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by Skiffy »

My nephew just died. He was 29. He did not name beneficiaries on any of his 401k or other accounts. So YOUBG or OLD check your account beneficiaries, have a simple will.
Mysterious
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Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2021 9:08 am

Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by Mysterious »

Simplifying your finances is the one thing I have learned.

Also, make sure all the accounts have a POD to your beneficiaries. All of them. Not just one that is around. Don't put one of your kids in that position. Put everyone on every financial account and let the banker navigate.

In a week after death, everything but real estate was completed for my parents. We had no issue with any of the bills. All the service providers were happy to transfer the bill to another name and account. Granted we only had a power company to deal with. Yes, that was it.

Deceased had a will but only the lawyer for the real estate holdings wanted to have a copy. Then, we were told it wouldn't matter as the judge will make the same decision.

When looking for accounts, assets, etc. I second the obvious spots. Also, the vehicles held titles and such. The biggest issue we had was safety deposit boxes. Luckily there was a living person on all of them and they had keys. If not, court would have happened and they would have been sealed until then. Do not put wills in safety deposit boxes.

My second advise is to keep beneficiaries small. If you want cousin tommy to have 5k give that to him today. Don't put it in the will. Those closing up your life are grieving as well and don't want to spend time trying to chase down beneficiaries.

All of this is state dependent and I would say city dependent. We had an instance where one banker told us to go to another bank in town because she thought the deceased had an account there. They did with a significant amount. At that point we went to all the banks in town just to make sure.

I was so thankful that none of this was dependent on electronic passwords and such. Frankly I needed a real live person at each financial institution helping us. We sat in chairs and the brought us bank checks.

Now life insurance is a different game. Very difficult to find the companies. Then, you have to list everyone you think could be a beneficiary and if it matches they get the check. So far, no life insurance policy will tell us the beneficiary straight out. We are going to lose two policies ($500) because all the beneficiaries are deceased and we were told we have to open probate on the beneficiary if deceased. But, again, no name given so catch 22. I was told if the beneficiary was a living spouse it is very easy. When spouse is also deceased it becomes more complicated.
WhyNotUs
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by WhyNotUs »

A couple thoughts based on lessons learned:

• If you are trying something like a life insurance trust to avoid estate taxes, take the time to make sure that it is set up properly and the ongoing payments are made properly. It is not a passive strategy. Getting it 75% right will not do you much good.
• If you have a "secret" investment, off-shore account, business interest, etc. provide that info to your attorney to be opened by the executor upon death.

We leave this earth in different manners, from abrupt accidents to slow painful deaths, and one may not have the capacity to disclose info in the moment.

Finding bills is somewhat easier as long as one has passwords to all accounts finding assets can be harder work. There is also a legal cure period for debts as long as one makes diligent efforts and provides notice as required by law. There is less incentive for someone to help you find assets and none if the owner wanted them to be secret.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX
bsteiner
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by bsteiner »

Mysterious wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:22 am ... make sure all the accounts have a POD to your beneficiaries. ....
Except for life insurance, retirement benefits and small amounts, we generally do the opposite.

TOD can defeat a well-designed estate plan.

Our clients generally provide for their children in separate trusts rather than outright, to keep their inheritances out of their estates for estate tax purposes, and to protect their inheritances from their creditors and spouses, and Medicaid.

If too much passes by TOD, there may not be enough money in the estate to pay debts, taxes, expenses and cash bequests. The cash bequests will fail unless a TOD beneficiary disclaims or makes gifts. If one TOD beneficiary doesn't contribute his/her share of the money needed to pay debts, taxes and expenses, the executors will have to chase him/her, or the other TOD beneficiaries will have to contribute more than their share.
WhyNotUs wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 8:26 am ... If you are trying something like a life insurance trust to avoid estate taxes, take the time to make sure that it is set up properly ....

If you have a "secret" investment, off-shore account, business interest, etc. provide that info to your attorney to be opened by the executor upon death. ...
There aren't many insurance trusts being created these days, since there aren't very many people rich enough to pay estate tax but poor enough to need life insurance. There are some, since there are other reasons for having life insurance in particular cases, and since some states have state estate taxes with lower exclusion amounts than the Federal.

We've had several estates where the decedent had unreported offshore accounts. They were interesting to say the least.
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F150HD
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by F150HD »

jebmke wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 7:44 am One part of a good answer is to keep things as simple as possible. Every time I get a chance I try to simplify the entire financial situation. I took more steps during the pandemic - partly because I had time on my hands and partly because of the increased risk that it matters.

The financial part was already pretty easy and done. One investment custodian, two banks, three credit cards.
+1 simple is best. Lower probability of error or failure.

_____________

one person I talked to once stated they have an 'encrypted' file or folder on some secret drive. It sounded ridiculously confusing for Joe Average to find and decipher if their family member passed.

At that, encrypting something with software that may or may not exist (?) X years down the road has me concerned....an encrypted file is of use to no one if they cannot decrypt it. (Am no authority on this, though someone else may be, I welcome their opinion)

Fidelity has Fidsafe https://www.fidsafe.com/ though many worry about security....outside of that one wonders if that could 'disappear' in X years leaving you in the same position you were in before using it. Dunno?

Wondering if anyone uses it? If so a review would be useful.
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Eagle33
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by Eagle33 »

Christine Benz's recent article for How to Create a Master Directory - This valuable document can help you see what you own, and serves as a crucial estate planning tool, too. It is one of the 7 Items Your Estate Plan May Have Left Out,
Rocket science is not “rocket science” to a rocket scientist, just as personal finance is not “rocket science” to a Boglehead.
anoop
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by anoop »

the title is a bit funny. it reads as if it is about how the guy that killed you finds all your accounts & bills. :)
Luckywon
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by Luckywon »

anoop wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:22 pm the title is a bit funny. it reads as if it is about how the guy that killed you finds all your accounts & bills. :)
:D :D :D Absolutely hilarious!!!
manatee2005
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by manatee2005 »

phxjcc wrote: Tue Jun 08, 2021 10:55 pm My spouse knows where everything is, including a "just in case" letter that has all the bills and bank account info.
A spreadsheet is kept by both of use regarding bills and what gets paid by what account and how...push/pull, when and how much and what account.

If we both die, I don't care.

What's the worse that can happen?

My credit rating takes a hit?
The utilities are turned off?
The insurance gets cancelled?
Gardner's and pool men not get paid?

None of this will happen as the paying accounts are on autopilot for at least 6 months.
We each keep one [interested paying] income/cash account that feeds the paying accounts, this is automated.
{Not on Autopilot--->Medicare Insurance, because of the nightmare I went through with Blue Cross when a relative died and it took 5 months to get $329 back from those *expletive'ing* "expletives"; eventually writing to the CLO and threatening litigation.}
One paying account per property--so that the Chateau in the Loire will not impact the Caribbean private island and that will not impact the ranch in Jackson Hole nor the golf house on 17 mile drive.
:beer
The cash accounts will *maybe* run out of money eventually--as SS and pensions get terminated on death.
However, they are fed by RMD's and rental income.

Heirs can figure it out.

If not, I won't care.


Note: Some//many BH'ers will say that I am wasting a lot of interest/earning capacity as I keep 6 months of run rate in cash.

Fine--but I don't care.
:shock:

I sleep fine--and don't need to worry if I have enough to cover expenses.

I recommend this approach.
By heirs do you mean your kids?
manatee2005
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by manatee2005 »

anoop wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:22 pm the title is a bit funny. it reads as if it is about how the guy that killed you finds all your accounts & bills. :)
I wonder if somebody from Netflix is reading this thread.
manatee2005
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by manatee2005 »

Mysterious wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:22 am Simplifying your finances is the one thing I have learned.
I was just thinking how will my wife or kids handle all my crypto wallets with 2FA tied to my phone.
manatee2005
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by manatee2005 »

Skiffy wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:16 am My nephew just died. He was 29. He did not name beneficiaries on any of his 401k or other accounts. So YOUBG or OLD check your account beneficiaries, have a simple will.
Sorry for your loss. In this case do the 401ks go to next of kin which are parents? When I was single I just assumed it would go to my parents, but I named them anyways cos my custodian forced us.
manatee2005
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by manatee2005 »

SimonJester wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:42 pm
We searched for weeks for a life insurance policy that he supposedly had that we never did find... Who knows.
Could you have hired a lawyer to find it? Or private investigator?
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LilyFleur
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by LilyFleur »

bsteiner wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:16 am
Mysterious wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:22 am ... make sure all the accounts have a POD to your beneficiaries. ....
Except for life insurance, retirement benefits and small amounts, we generally do the opposite.

TOD can defeat a well-designed estate plan.

Our clients generally provide for their children in separate trusts rather than outright, to keep their inheritances out of their estates for estate tax purposes, and to protect their inheritances from their creditors and spouses, and Medicaid.

If too much passes by TOD, there may not be enough money in the estate to pay debts, taxes, expenses and cash bequests. The cash bequests will fail unless a TOD beneficiary disclaims or makes gifts. If one TOD beneficiary doesn't contribute his/her share of the money needed to pay debts, taxes and expenses, the executors will have to chase him/her, or the other TOD beneficiaries will have to contribute more than their share.
WhyNotUs wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 8:26 am ... If you are trying something like a life insurance trust to avoid estate taxes, take the time to make sure that it is set up properly ....

If you have a "secret" investment, off-shore account, business interest, etc. provide that info to your attorney to be opened by the executor upon death. ...
There aren't many insurance trusts being created these days, since there aren't very many people rich enough to pay estate tax but poor enough to need life insurance. There are some, since there are other reasons for having life insurance in particular cases, and since some states have state estate taxes with lower exclusion amounts than the Federal.

We've had several estates where the decedent had unreported offshore accounts. They were interesting to say the least.
How does this function with nursing home bills? I have seen threads on this forum where children want to not pay for nice nursing homes for their ill parent, but want to inherit everything. It was my feeling (and my sister's) that my parents worked hard for their money, and they deserved the very best nursing home care. They were both private people and did not want to share a room with a stranger in a nursing home. They both actually needed a private-pay helper at the nursing home at some point, because of various reasons. Most folks don't realize how expensive the care for dementia is. One of my parents was in a cast and because of dementia, could not remember not to get out of the bed, and the nursing home didn't have staff to be right there by the bed, just in case. I was there when it happened. My parent was almost out of the bed (was still quite strong physically having broken her ankle on the way back from Pilates), and her caregiver ran around the bed, physically stood next to the bed, and gently reminded her that her ankle was broken and she needed to stay in the bed. I don't think Medicaid would have provided this level of care.

Anything that was left was our inheritance.
dropdx
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Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:01 pm

Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by dropdx »

My brother was able to pull a credit report for my mother based on information we had available, that was very helpful in identifying all the different accounts.
Mysterious
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Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2021 9:08 am

Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by Mysterious »

bsteiner wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:16 am
Mysterious wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:22 am ... make sure all the accounts have a POD to your beneficiaries. ....
Except for life insurance, retirement benefits and small amounts, we generally do the opposite.

TOD can defeat a well-designed estate plan.

Our clients generally provide for their children in separate trusts rather than outright, to keep their inheritances out of their estates for estate tax purposes, and to protect their inheritances from their creditors and spouses, and Medicaid.

If too much passes by TOD, there may not be enough money in the estate to pay debts, taxes, expenses and cash bequests. The cash bequests will fail unless a TOD beneficiary disclaims or makes gifts. If one TOD beneficiary doesn't contribute his/her share of the money needed to pay debts, taxes and expenses, the executors will have to chase him/her, or the other TOD beneficiaries will have to contribute more than their share.

***Yes! Valid points. Thank you for adding this to the post. I have the privilege of 20/20 hindsight on my particular position. But, trying to plan for all scenarios is quite difficult and thus estate planning is necessary.

Called all the beneficiaries I am working with and thanked them for being so helpful and easy to work with as I can see how awful this can become pretty fast.
egrets
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by egrets »

Traveller wrote: Tue Jun 08, 2021 10:36 pm I keep a binder in my home office that includes all relevant info including accounts, contacts, insurance, copy of our wills, passwords, combo to the safe, our budget (which shows all our monthly bills), etc. My spouse and siblings know where it is.
Also real estate owned details, pet info, car info, copies of last several years tax returns fed and state and supporting receipts etc. I have this in my house and in a safe deposit box. The executor/trustee has a copy minus the passwords and account numbers; of course I trust him but I don't trust some random burglar. I have this backed up on thumb drives. The successor executor/trustees have copies of the will and trust and a list of everything in the safe deposit box.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by Doom&Gloom »

After following this thread, I went back and updated my instructions. Thanks for the nudge, OP.

In my case the process is making certain that someone is able to access my PC or laptop, navigate my primary KeePass password manager database, and locate a few key folders on my PC and in my email accounts. If they can do that, they are home (and practically legwork) free. If not, someone will have to do things the old-fashioned (and very time consuming) way.

Leaving other instructions or recommendations that they will hopefully follow is relatively easy after ensuring that the above steps are accomplished. At least it is in my case, YMMV, of course.
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LilyFleur
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by LilyFleur »

My house and car are TOD. My accounts have beneficiaries in place.

Part of my financial planning goals have been to streamline my assets to make it easier for my children, and I made two moves in 2020 to do that.

I also try to keep my footprint small and well-organized. I don't have a mini-storage and try to keep the contents of my modest home well-curated. (I inherited a mini-storage, and that was pure hell.) It is on my list to go through the family photos and have a scanning service scan only the best ones, and then organize them on some sort of electronic media for my children.

I recently made my son co-owner of my checking and savings accounts at my credit union and made a decision to keep enough cash in there so he could keep paying bills on my home and pay for my cremation and funeral.

I set up my will and power of attorneys and advanced health care directive in 2017. It will be time to review all of that in a year or two, probably. The original is kept in my safety deposit box, and my son has a key and legal access.
tibbitts
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Re: So now you're dead -- how does your executor find all your accounts & bills?

Post by tibbitts »

F150HD wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 11:52 am
jebmke wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 7:44 am One part of a good answer is to keep things as simple as possible. Every time I get a chance I try to simplify the entire financial situation. I took more steps during the pandemic - partly because I had time on my hands and partly because of the increased risk that it matters.

The financial part was already pretty easy and done. One investment custodian, two banks, three credit cards.
+1 simple is best. Lower probability of error or failure.

_____________

one person I talked to once stated they have an 'encrypted' file or folder on some secret drive. It sounded ridiculously confusing for Joe Average to find and decipher if their family member passed.

At that, encrypting something with software that may or may not exist (?) X years down the road has me concerned....an encrypted file is of use to no one if they cannot decrypt it. (Am no authority on this, though someone else may be, I welcome their opinion)

Fidelity has Fidsafe https://www.fidsafe.com/ though many worry about security....outside of that one wonders if that could 'disappear' in X years leaving you in the same position you were in before using it. Dunno?

Wondering if anyone uses it? If so a review would be useful.
I've had a Fidsafe account for years, but don't use it for anything estate-related that someone else has to access. Everything anybody would need except passwords in one cloud repository, and it's not encrypted. Passwords are in a password manager. I assume that like me, most Bogleheads have lost data because they can no longer decrypt it. And that's data you encrypted yourself with your own software. It happens. So for me that's a bridge too far. You have to weigh the risk of someone dealing with your estate not being able to access data against the probability of some unauthorized person accessing it, and the impact it would have if someone did access it.

You do need to periodically test your plan to make sure everyone who needs to can actually access your data, be it your passwords in your password manager, or data in the cloud.
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