So, it is a Saturday morning and I am here in the office trying to get caught up. Frankly, it is very relaxing. For I come in, kick off my shoes, and have some jazz playing in the background.
I was working on a probate trying to determine what assets comprised the estate. My clients brought in 2 photocopier boxes full of papers and upon doing so said to me “here is everything.” The boxes consisted of deeds, insurance policies, bank statements, investment accounts information, etc. It took a while but I fought my way through it and got everything organized. But there was one thing that was missing.
Rather than have an attorney bill you by the hour to determine what the assets consist of and where they are located, you should have an inventory. It doesn’t have to be extensive. But where is the stuff? Especially, insurance and annuity policies. When was the last time you heard about an insurance company contacting a beneficiary to ask if they were going to make a claim on a policy? I watched a segment on 60 Minutes a few years ago and learned that insurance companies know when their insured customers pass away through some type nationwide master list. In the case of whole life insurance policy that has cash values, if the owner is deceased and the premium is due, how does it get paid? The premium out of the cash values. So, your inventory better list insurance and annuity policies including the name of the insurance company, the policy number, the contact information of the insurance company as well as the agent, the face amount, etc. Don’t leave anything out.
Back to what was missing. Your inventory should take into consideration technology. It should include a list identifying your digital assets as well as their user identification numbers and passcodes. You would think we could use the same passcode for all digital assets but you shouldn’t, for if you did, it would be very dangerous in case your information was hacked.
So it is most important that you have this information in your inventory so that if something were to happen to you, your General Durable Power of Attorney Agent or Personal Representative of your Estate would be able to have access to the information you have stored up in the cloud. If not, you are going to have a heck of a time trying to obtain this information from banks, credit unions, investment firms, cell phones, etc.
There was a piece on CBS News a couple of months ago about an investment broker or money manager who passed away. All his clients information was stored up in the cloud. There was $166,000,000.00 up in the cloud and none of his clients could gain access to it because no one could find his passcode. I guess they eventually got it worked out.
So, to protect yourself and your loved ones, do put together an inventory containing digital information about you.