Paper Versus Electronic Documentation
It’s funny how we all see things, as a man in his mid-fifties who has been married thirty years, I still never see myself as old – although my kids do! I just think some of my joints have worn out way before their time. I mean, if you live in my community there are people over 100 years old still driving themselves around town. This can make anyone my age feel very young.
After all, I do consider my myself a pretty healthy guy with a little extra coating around the midsection to help keep me warm, oh forget that, I live in Florida. No really, I am pretty healthy especially for my age but recently I have had to make a few trips too many to the VA hospital. Something popped up that gave me a little concern and reminded me that we are all still vulnerable no matter how strong or healthy we think we are.
My point is, after looking around the hospital I seen Veterans of all ages and in different conditions and as usual my mind was thinking about each and every one of them and what they have experienced and what their lives must be like today. I thought of my family members who were Veterans and who are no longer here with us. So, I thought about the age differences and different experiences with technologies in combat and then in-home life.
I thought about how I was the last of the Marines who wore a steel pot (helmet) versus the younger Marines who now wear Kevlar Helmets (bullet proof). I looked at the younger Veterans on their cell phones and the older ones reading a newspaper or magazine while waiting to see the doctor. I wondered how the younger Veteran’s families would track everything if they lost their son or daughter.
What I am talking about is paper versus technology generations and the impacts of both. So here are just a few of the things I thought about and wanted to pass on to everyone. First, I need to disclose I am not an attorney by any means and any legal advice should come from your estate attorney. But I will talk a bit about your home mortgage loan.
Today everything seems to be about saving paper and the green earth. Everyone is doing electronic banking, shopping, and even talking by text message. Here is where I find the issue is for the younger generation, that they never think about.
I have paper everything, If I need something there it is in a file, not on my laptop or cell phone. I know I hear it from my kids all the time, “but my cell phone is with me all the time and I have everything right there when I need it”. Well that’s great and all, but here is the problem.
We all know our date of birth but not our date of death. I know you’re not going to worry about that but neither did the people in the high school in South Florida or those passing under the pedestrian bridge. If you have everything stored electronically you family doesn’t know what you have or how to access it. With paper your family can walk in to your room or house and open the desk draw and see every account, checking, saving, retirement accounts, mortgage loans, auto, etc. you have.
If you have everything stored electronically, what is your plan for your family to know what you have? I know its not any of their business right. Think again. If your family doesn’t know you have a saving account or stock account at some secret brokerage place even if you list them as a beneficiary but they don’t know it even exists, that money could end up in the instructional lost and found, so to speak. In other words, after ten years it becomes theirs as unclaimed funds, depending on your contract.
You should still have a note book or little black book stored in a secure place that someone you trust knows about. This book should have you account numbers or at least the last four digits of, your logins and a code your trusted one would know to figure out your passwords. Some people may use a safe deposit box or home safe to store the accounts, logins and passwords.
There are many reasons this is very important but let’s focus on the home mortgage loan of your home. Here in most cases is the largest asset most people have. Having access to the mortgage loan and checking account can allow your family to continue to make your monthly mortgage payments until your affairs can be settled. The mortgage service provider really doesn’t care who is making the payments as long as they are receiving them. Having the home go into foreclosure and running up the legal fees can be devastating to the estate.
This will give you proper time to handle the estate, probate and whatever else is needed with out losing major amounts of assets and money. Everyone should at least have some type of estate plan as little or big as it maybe. It’s hard enough on the family when they lose you, but you don’t have to make things worst by leaving them a mess.
The Veterans Affairs for VA loans and FHA/HUD with reverse mortgages have a form to be filled out with the name and contact information for your nearest relative. You should let your lender know who you want to have access to your account incase of emergency or death. Plan ahead seek proper legal advice, ask questions and we will see you at a happy closing table.