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Accessibility of account information in case of demise
Old 04-23-2012, 06:54 AM   #1
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Accessibility of account information in case of demise

The other day, DW and I got on a plane and I wondered, "What would happen if this crashed?". We have two kids in college who rely on us for bills to get paid, and from what others have told us, if you die as a French resident, it takes *ages* for the paperwork, wills, etc to get sorted out. In the meantime, accounts get frozen. Children who are minors get taken care of, but adult survivors can be royally screwed.

My solution has been to write up a paper explaining to the kids how to get at those of our investments which are either liquid, or liquidatable on-line. This should enable them to get, say, a couple of years' worth of their expenses out of the system and into their accounts, before everything gets frozen. All the passwords are coded, with "family knowledge" required to decode them. (This will also be useful if it's just me who keels over tomorrow - DW often complains that she doesn't know how our finances work, but she's never taken up my offer to show her, in detail, what to do for each of the accounts.)

I was wondering what others may have done about this issue.
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Age 56, retired July 1, 2012; DW is 60 and working for 2 more years. Current portfolio is 2000K split 50 stocks/20 bonds/30 cash. Renting house, no debts.
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Old 04-23-2012, 07:23 AM   #2
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There was another thread recently that is relative to the subject. It prompted me to do something similar to what was suggested. I got one of those steno boods and titled it "WHEN I'M GONE". Inside I listed all the accounts we have with user ID's and passwords, answers to secret questions and other codes that may be required to access accounts. I also had a page dedicated to phone numbers of people to contact, who to call about life insurance policies, reporting my death to the company I worked for relative to benefits for DW, etc. You can do a search in the box above this thread for info on the topic.
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Old 04-23-2012, 07:24 AM   #3
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I put my son and wife on my card for my safe deposit box, so they have access to important papers and have a durable power of attorney with the wife and son as primary and secondary. I also put them as pod on cd's and bank accounts. I figured that with these they should have enough, no matter how long the courts take.
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Old 04-23-2012, 11:31 AM   #4
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Can't speak to what it is like in other countries, but until you notify the bank or brokerage of the death, they won't probably know. You have a bit of time, but only if you know what/where/who to look for the accounts in order to get the funds.
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Old 04-23-2012, 11:52 AM   #5
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Be careful.

If the estate is going through probate, you're not supposed to withdraw from the accounts until probate clears. This was an issue with my step mom's kids and her first husband's estate. It's an argument for a living trust.

Another thing to note - wills/documents/etc like this should not have the only copy in a safe deposit box. The safe deposit box also gets shut down during probate... presenting kind of a catch 22. You can't get the will, to settle the estate, until the estate settles. Our attorney suggested we have any "in case of death" type documents held by a neutral party. Sure - keep a copy in the safe deposit box... but also have a copy that can be retrieved if the box gets locked down. We gave a manila envelope of docs to my sister. She gave us a similar manila envelope. Neither envelope is opened... No need to go there till it's needed.

But - even with a trust - it's a good idea to have the list of accounts/passwords. When my dad died he had everything in Quicken - so that helped. And he had stuff that we had no idea about - an old Vet death benefit policy (he served a few years during the Korean conflict).... a small death benefit from his former employer. We had no idea... but he had it all in one place... He had all the stuff in a manila envelope (notice the trend here) in a desk drawer.
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Old 04-23-2012, 02:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frank View Post
I put my son and wife on my card for my safe deposit box, so they have access to important papers and have a durable power of attorney with the wife and son as primary and secondary. I also put them as pod on cd's and bank accounts. I figured that with these they should have enough, no matter how long the courts take.

Why wouldn't those items be listed jointly with your wife?
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