The Digital Keys to Your Estate

digital keyIn the past week, The New York Times has run two stories on two different angles of our modern-day lives. 

The first story posted on May 24th Leaving Behind the Digital Keys to Financial Lives discusses the real life issue created that is not being addressed in current financial or estate planning. Our financial lives are online – we have paperless statements, automated bill payments as well as credit cards on file with several of our treasured online services. If you have not documented these, your loved ones would have no clue on how to access this information. This goes beyond the roster of accounts and includes the online access codes and details with those accounts. This is the prime problem I created the MemoryBanc Register to solve — it helps individuals catalog and share this information if it is ever needed. 

What most American’s fail to recognize is that until our 80s, we are more likely to suffer a disability than die. You may very well be on this planet and need to have someone in your life access and manage your affairs for you – if even only temporarily.

Don’t forget about the $58 billion sitting in state and federal treasuries. This is not a new problem.

The second story is from May 25th Bequeathing the Keys to Your Digital Afterlife which deals with the issue of all those online assets, like photographs or even your blog. Google is the first to set up a provision for this and hopefully, the other online firms will follow. Hoped.

How about you?  Take this quick poll now.

Will the Power of Attorney work when you need it to?

I beat the drum on the issue of a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA). I had one for my parents, but one financial services firm rejected it because it was more than 2 years old, a second who said they won’t accept one more than 5 years old and their insurance firm said they would only accept the version they created. This statement shocks many who believe they are covered.

POAIf you have any concerns about your DPOA, I recommend you speak to a lawyer who is dedicated to the practice of Estate Planning. They should counsel you that there are some instances where you may need them to follow-up to ensure the DPOA is accepted. It’s one of many reasons to not use an online legal service for your estate planning needs.

When you are getting your wills, and power of attorney done, I strongly urge you to find a lawyer who ONLY focuses on Estate Planning. The state and federal laws and rulings are constantly changing and those issues are things the estate lawyer can help you with. We found one to get a DPOA for my parents that would be accepted by their banks and insurance company. If you had a heart condition, you would not go to a general practice doctor, you would see a cardiologist. Look at finding a lawyer who specialized in estate planning when you are updating these documents.

In reality, there is more to organizing your estate than just having the legal papers in place — you need to get it organized and setting up online access is a huge benefit to a loved one if they ever need to step in and assist you.

To learn more about the DPOA issues check out a story in The Wall Street Journal –  Power Grab! Signing Over Power of Attorney to a Loved One Has Never Been Trickier. Here’s What You Need to Know. 

To get your personal, financial, online, medical and household records organized so they are easier for you to access as well as share with or pass onto a loved one, visit www.MemoryBanc.com/Register 

Driven. 

Jonesing for the Era of June Cleaver

june cleaver valentineI was so excited with my first mobile phone. It was a car phone that had to be installed. I had a two-hour commute and being able to call my boyfriend was worth the cost of the latest technology.

The expectation to manage the many modes of communication 24/7 has made me reconsider the joy I felt towards that first mobile phone. We now have to manage email, texts and postings on the various social media sites we use on top of mail and home and work numbers.

The change from letters and a home phone to a variety of communication devices has radically changed how we manage our lives and how the companies that we use interact with us and how they provide service. It’s also made managing and organizing personal, financial, online and household accounts and services much more complex.

As I sift through my parents’ papers and try to manage their accounts due to their dementia diagnoses, I envy the era of the Cleavers. More than three years ago, I started to support my parents’ banking and bill pay needs. It took me more than six months just to collect major account details. Just last month a life insurance policy of my mother’s emerged.

This is not a new problem. Today, $58 billion is sitting with a variety of state treasuries and federal agencies representing checking accounts, security deposits and life insurance policies that are unclaimed (CNN Money). Many of these details fall off the radar in a crisis or during the chaos of settling an estate. However, I’m wondering how many accounts I am missing and I have had three years with my parents to collect and organize their important papers. Things are just a lot more complex today and if you don’t already know this, most financial institutions DO NOT ACCEPT even a Durable Power-of-Attorney if it’s not on their letterhead and written by their lawyers.

This month’s edition of Consumer Reports shared that both spouses knew the details about family finances and where to find major account information in only 30 percent of all households. The story went on to report that 86 percent had not updated their wills or other estate planning documents within the previous five years. Without these documents, the laws in your state will dictate how your assets and children are cared for – and you will be paying them to provide that service for your estate regardless of its size.

Several recent news stories highlight the need to document your personal, financial and online details – regardless of your age. The breadth and depth of the impact to individuals of all ages and walks of life continues to surprise me. The Wall Street Journal reported Life and Death Online: Who Controls a Digital Legacy? The article discusses the impact of the digital world on the legacy of an individual when they die. The prime subject of the story was only 16 years old.

There is a lot of material to organize. You can download our free guide to all the important papers and accounts that would make a huge difference to your loved ones should they need it. Make it your special Valentine’s Day gift to your those around you who will be impacted if you have not done this already.

We can also help you get organized. From the MemoryBanc® Register™ that organizes your personal, financial, medical, online and household details, to our Do-It-Now Service to get organized in 2 two-hour sessions, to our secure concierge storage and delivery services to ensure your information gets to the right person when it’s needed most.

We have left the era of June Cleaver far behind, and now I ask you to consider organizing your vital papers and telling family members where to find them. It’s the kindest thing you can do for your loved ones.

Sincerely,
– Kay
Kay Bransford
Chief Curator and Founder, MemoryBanc
P.S. Order a MemoryBanc Register by February 28, 2013 and receive a 10 percent discount. To take advantage of this offer, enter “GRACE” in the coupon code box at www.MemoryBanc.com/Register.

For questions or to place your order by phone, call 703.436.2827.

Can we order one of your books?

MemoryBanc RegisterOn the past few visits with my parents I have taken phone calls that were orders for the MemoryBanc Register. My mom let’s out a “hot dang!” then asks “can we order one of your books?”

My brain reels. Try as I might, I’m the kind of gal who has the witty response a day after it would have been useful. My defense for this has been to stick with the truth. So I tell my mom I already have a book for them.

Recently, my mom has been appreciative of the help and telling me now how much she is struggling to put information together. I have never shared with them they have been the inspiration for my business. She has no idea how many MONTHS I spent trying to find all the information on their accounts. She doesn’t know how frustrating it’s been to try and help them. My parent’s do not understand how many things they were failing to manage (bills, household maintenance) and many simple fixes their Power-of-Attorney could have fixed were derailed.

The blessing of the Internet has been that I could set-up online access to act on my parent’s behalf. I had enough personal information and knew what their PINs would be. It’s been over two years since she called me to ask how to put money in the bank. Just last week we uncovered another bank account and a life insurance policy. It’s no wonder that the Washington Post reported that there is over $32 billion dollars of unclaimed funds are sitting in state treasuries just waiting to be claimed.

It’s time to put the book in front of my parents (or a summary at least) so they can see, touch and feel more connected to their own estate. Documented.