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Life Goes On – Account Access Instructions

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Planning for retirement and life in general requires organization and much thought. Long before we retire our significant others require our assistance and this goes both ways. In most relationships, one person takes responsibility for certain aspects of the couple’s life.  Whoever pays the bills and manages financial affairs must have clear and concise instructions prepared for the other party in case of an emergency, illness or untimely death.

 

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When I prepared our estate plans [3] years ago, I developed Account Access Instruction sheets for all accounts: banks, brokerage, IRA/401K retirement accounts, credit unions, social security and others. Coincident with these, I competed a comprehensive Care giver and Survivor’s package. Actually, both of these are a must have at any stage of life, not just for retirement. As the title of this article states, “Life Goes On’ and when it does others need this information, especially young families and the retired.

Click here [4] to download this sample WORD document if you would like to use this format, just type over the sample data with your personal information. I also prepared a PDF file [5] for those who don’t use WORD, you won’t be able to change the data with a PDF however you can use it as a sample for other word processors.

The first part of my Account Access Instruction sheet lists each account at an institution and provides the account number, balance, and how the account is registered. They can be registered as joint, individual or trust. Then I added either the Transfer on death (TOD) beneficiaries [6] or trust.  If it is a trust, successor trustees take over control of the account and other trust assets.

I know this sounds like a lot of work; it really isn’t if you take it one step at a time in logical order. Last week’s column titled, The State of YOUR Affairs – Exposing the Obvious [7] provided the first step; a way to evaluate where you are at financially and what your significant other will have to live on when one partner leaves this realm. It does take time to locate the data, fill out the forms, and then add up the figures. Yet, if you did this last week, you will now have time to compile the information needed for your Account Access Instructions.

In the second part of the form, I list website sign in procedures to include the web address, user ID, security image if appropriate, and the password for your account. You should also provide a phone number for the institution with other specific guidance. After a death the beneficiary or successor trustee must provide the institution with a death certificate to take over the account. It is also essential to grant an attorney-in-fact specific powers to administer digital assets through a written and signed Power of Attorney document. I need to revise my wife’s and my Powers of Attorney to include this.

Finally, I list other pertinent data including security questions and answers in case the password expires and provide other relevant information. It is beneficial to add the document file location at the bottom of the form.  When you go back to update the access information, you will know exactly where to find it.

The information collected on these sheets can also be included in the estate Caregiver and Survivor Report [8].  I chose to use individual sheets so they are handy and easy for my wife and assigned successor trustees to use if I’m unable to manage our affairs. Plus, my wife uses them in my absence when she accesses accounts.

I plan to outline the Caregiver and Survivor report later this month.  There are programs that will help you compile this information or you can prepare it with any word process as long as you have an outline of what is needed.

Please forward this article to others that may benefit from this information. Anyone can sign up to receive my FREE newsletter [9]. We don’t advertise this service; others learn about our Retirement Planning newsletter and website through subscriber referrals.

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Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Last 5 posts by Dennis Damp