Monday, February 2, 2009

Covering your assets

Previously long term relationships with bank tellers and branch managers meant that, when a loved one died, your loss was met with concern and condolences. Changes to bank policies are tying the sympathetic hands of caring employees within these institutions.

Increasingly, the death of long time, as well as short term, bank customers, leads banks to freeze bank accounts, disallowing access to funds until a probated Will is produced, a process which can take months. Instead of accepting legitimate and valid Wills, many banks are requiring that the estate trustee be appointed first. Sadly, unknowing, grieving customers, expecting sympathy and understanding, are being met with red tape which, instead of assisting the grieving families, instead is tying up needed assets at a most critical time.

Here are 5 things you can do to aid your family in accessing your bank accounts when you pass away.

1) Educate yourself on the probate policies for each financial institution that you deal with.

2) Probate policies are inconsistent within the financial industry so it pays to shop around.

3) Ask for copies of these policies from banking personal to ensure that when policies are amended, you have copies of what you did agree to.

4) Ask key banking personal to explain what would happen to your accounts should you pass away and vocalize your expectations so that there are no surprises.

5) Where appropriate and after advisement from a lawyer and accountant, add a family members name to your accounts.

These assets belong to you and, although there are times when these policies have avoided potential problems for families, for the majority of the population, this is a case where the needs of the many are being negatively impacted by the few.