I really like this article about a fifty-something couple trying to untangle her aging parents’ finances: The Difficult, Delicate Untangling of Our Parents’ Financial Lives.
It resonates with me in a couple of ways, the first because we are going through a similar process in my own family. Our job is a lot simpler because the accounts are better organized, but it’s still surprising how many financial tentacles we send out in the ordinary course of living our lives.
Second, this is what I hope for everyone who sits down to organize their finances, that they know the following:
- which accounts they have, and where (online, physical locations, etc.)
- how to access the accounts — and who can access them, in the case of joint accounts (passwords, passbooks, etc.)
Our accounts are organized in my own mind, but what if I were to die tomorrow? Would the rest of my family know how to access the money in those accounts? I have a list of passwords, but it’s encrypted (again, in my own mind!) so no one will know how to access my many online accounts. I’ve known for a while that we need to get a safe deposit box, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Reading this article has spurred me on to get it done, and put my (unencrypted) list of passwords there. Along with my list of passwords, I’ll record all of our bank account numbers and life insurance policies — anything that a person would need to reconcile my financial life after my death.