When a spouse dies is not the time to find out proper steps haven’t been taken to deal with new financial realities.
According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, even people who feel they are properly prepared can find themselves facing more than grief at the loss of a loved one. They can be in for a world of hurt in coping with estate, banking and other financial issues.
“While the Internet era has ushered in a boom in online financial planning, it also has caused a tangle of banking, bill-paying and other online relationships that require tending even after people die,” according to the story. “But there are ways to help ease the transition, from collecting passwords and updating beneficiary forms to setting up new retirement accounts. Lawyers and financial planners are even adding digital estate planning to their menu of services.”
Perhaps the most important pieces of advice offered in the article are getting everything registered in the names of both spouses and ensuring that passwords and user names are recorded, not residing in the mind of one or the other partner in the relationship.
“Even if spouses have updated beneficiary information on obvious assets like retirement accounts, other assets still might be in one partner’s name,” the story states.
It is likewise important, The Journal piece states, to find out in advance how a financial institution will handle switching these joint accounts to the surviving spouse only.
“To avoid any surprises, it is important to make sure you understand what happens with a joint account when you want to move it into one person’s name, whether any holds are placed on deposits or withdrawals, and whether online banking could be affected,” the story advises.
While these are grim things to think about, they don’t have to be. With the help of an attorney, a thorough degree of preparation can provide some very real peace of mind, and prevent needless aggravation added to sadness and sorrow in the, hopefully, distant future.