Suspending or settling/closing your accounts is not as easy as you think. Do you have an inventory of all of your accounts in your advanced planning documents? If not, you could cause your loved ones a lot of stress.
Recently, the media has covered the need to share with your loved ones your online social account access, i.e., Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., so they can manage them and communicate with your connections when you cannot or upon your death. However, the media has not mentioned the need to also inventory more traditional accounts that are not merely banking, investment or insurance, both online and offline.
When I speak with people who are handling a loved one’s illness or death, they often share stories of how difficult it was to track down a variety of account types for suspension or cancellation. Examples of these more traditional accounts and auto-renew subscriptions include:
- social security and/or disability benefits
- automatic payments from a checking or savings account for items such as: credit card payments, utilities (electricity, gas, water, home oil), tele (wireless, home service), Internet access, home-owners association, cleaning or yard service, nursing home, etc.
- credit cards, especially store-branded (e.g., Macys) and affinity cards (e.g., university) which may not have been used frequently
- newspaper and magazine subscriptions, often set to auto-renewal on credit cards, both delivery and online access
- monthly charitable contributions to public radio or television
- cloud-based software/service, e.g., MS Office, Adobe, virus protection like Norton 360, online storage like Google Drive, etc.
- children’s activities and sport
Think about the number of accounts you have that may draw from or deposit to one of your credit card, bank or investment accounts.
If one dies intestate (without a will), all of accounts need to be settled and closed prior to completing probate. That’s one of the reasons why probate takes so long. Months and months before assets are distributed, potentially leaving a spouse without a financial means of support. Taking inventory of all accounts is critical, even for those who have their basic advanced planning complete: will and advanced healthcare directive.
A gentleman who shared his story told me that it took him more than two years to find then settle of his mother-in-law’s accounts. And she did believe that she and her estate planner had covered everything in advance.