Death - JT TEN WROS
"Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes."While your typical preparedness planning is all about surviving difficult times, eventually death is inevitable. In an earlier post, Make a Plan, I discussed the importance of not just having an emergency plan but sharing the details with friends and family so they can implement the plan if you are incapacitated or missing. This applies equally to financial planning.
- Benjamin Franklin
In many families, one parent handles most of the financial planning and insurance. They alone know where the money is kept, the bank account numbers, the insurance agent's phone number, etc. When this person passes away, the surviving spouse (or kids) may have no clue about the family nest egg in a CD, rainy day funds invested in mutual funds, or retirement money in a 401(k). Worse yet the survivors might not have legal access to the funds for weeks or months. If the bank account, CD, stocks, etc are in the name of the deceased spouse/partner only, the widowed spouse/partner may not access it until the Will (you have Will right?) is officially probated by lawyers and the bank, etc, recognize you as the inheritor.
Three things are vital in financial planning post-death:
- Make sure your spouse/partner/parents/trusted executor/lawyer/someone has a list of all places where the family money is kept, with account numbers and contact information.
- To avoid the delay of will probating, register your accounts in two names as Joint Tenant With Right of Survivorship (JT TEN WROS). This means two of you have legal access as individuals and that access will continue if one of you passes away. Bank checks should have the names of both spouses/partners so either may sign. Ditto for credit cards.
- Be sure to follow-up on these accounts. Many banks close accounts after many years of inactivity and turn the money over to the state.