In the “old days”, a paper trail was usually very easy to follow when someone died. You could find their bank account statements, credit card and utility bills and pension and brokerage account information all tucked away in a file cabinet or a drawer. Then you called the contact numbers provided to notify them about the death.
Today, it’s not so simple.
Many of us do our banking online. All we do is log in, click on those merchants we wish to pay, insert the amount and we’re done. If we want to transfer money or even deposit a check, no paper has to be used. Everything is done electronically.
Bill paying has also gone paperless. I can’t remember the last time I received a bill in the mail. Today I just receive an electronic notification that my bill has been processed for payment.
If I want to know how my portfolio is doing, I log into my brokerage account to check. I no longer get huge stacks of paperwork every month detailing the value of each investment. It’s the same with my pension – I just go online and review the numbers.
This is great except for one thing. It leaves no paper trail for our loved ones to follow when we die. If we don’t keep good records that list all of the accounts that we manage online as well as the passwords and other information needed to access them, they may never be found and some of our assets may be floating around in cyberspace forever.
For more information about how to plan for incapacity or death, go to www.diesmart.com.