As of February 2019, The State of California has $9.3 Billion of unclaimed property.
This property is made up of bank accounts, safe deposit box contents, insurance policy proceeds and investment accounts that have been left inactive for a certain amount of time defined by law, usually about three years. A significant amount of these unclaimed assets result from people not knowing the full scope of their loved one’s financial holdings.
Most likely you have a clear picture of how your own money is organized and how you have invested it to plan for the future. But what do you know about your parents’ financial picture? Your brothers and sisters? And what would your children, or their potential caregivers, know about your financial accounts?
When my mother-in-law passed away, my husband and I waited for paper statements in the mail over months of time to piece together her estate assets. Nowadays, with many people regularly using online account access and automatic bill payments, waiting for a loved one’s financial information to present itself in the mail may be a futile endeavor.
So what can be done?
- For all of my LifeLadder Estate Planning clients, I create a Financial Asset Log. The Financial Asset Log is a spreadsheet that lays out the real property, bank and investment accounts, insurance policies and retirements accounts held by each client. It provides crucial information like account numbers and holding institutions, contact information and approximate asset values. This is a living document and should be updated at least once a year.
The Financial Asset Log stays securely inside the Estate Planning Binder in your home or office, so it’s not likely to be accessed by strangers. However, if you prefer I can provide a digital version, which can be password protected. (Just make sure you remember to share that password with your loved ones.)
- To allow your loved ones to access your accounts online, I recommend that all of my clients use LastPass Families password manager. The Emergency Access Feature allows another designated LastPass User to access your accounts in unexpected situations.
If you want to find out more about California’s Office of Unclaimed Property and check if any of it may belong to you, go to https://ucpi.sco.ca.gov/UCP/Default.aspx.