PetWill Radio

Friday, February 15, 2013

What a Tangled Web We Leave -

This lengthy and informative article has a lot of good suggestions for avoiding some of the problems that can be faced when a loved one dies.  One of the newest and biggest problems is the inability to access online accounts for financial transactions if you don't know the usernames and passwords.

We recommend keeping an accessible list of all usernames and passwords so your loved ones can easily access your online financial information.  In the soon to be released "Straight Talk! What to Do When Someone Dies" authors Peggy Hoyt and Debbie Roser discuss a number of suggestions for making sure loved ones don't have to face the "morbid scavenger hunt" when someone dies.  

I strongly disagree with one bit of advice found in this article.  The author makes a number of suggestions for adding a spouse's name to individually owned property.  This may or may not be good advice.  There may be second or blended marriage reasons for not adding a spouse's name.  There are asset protection issues to think about before adding another person's name to anything, not to mention possible gift tax, documentary stamp tax or other tax reasons to consider.  Adding another person's name to an asset just to avoid probate is not a wise decision.  Probate has been labeled as a "four letter word" when probate actually serves a valuable purpose - identifying assets, paying creditors and making proper distributions in accordance with a person's written instructions - their Last Will.  Joint ownership can cause uncertainty and result in unintended beneficiaries if all of the possible ramifications are not explored. 

Before taking any advice from an article or a well-meaning friend, consult with your trusted estate planning counsel. 

What a Tangled Web We Leave -

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