My father used to be self-employed and owned a small wholesaling business in Calgary. The warehouse was about 10,000 square feet and had boxes upon boxes of inventory. One day before he was going away for a short vacation he told me nestled in the boxes was a product box, which instead of the product held about $5,000.00 in cash for emergency purposes. I wish I could have seen the look on my face when he told me that. I kept thinking if something ever happened while he was away, I would need to open every single box to see if there more cash hidden inside.
In estate planning or administration, your attorney or executor does not want to put on a hat and imitate Indiana Jones or Sherlock Holmes to find your assets. While searching for assets might sound exciting to some people, it can create worry about whether assets are missing. There is also risk your assets may not be found or be transferred to someone whom you do not intend.
Even if you do not want to advise your Attorney or Executor how much your estate is worth, you can save them time and provide peace of mind by keeping all of your financial information in one place, and advising them where it is kept. While a lot of people do not own a safe, most people have a specific place where they keep their important papers.
At Pritchard & Co. we recommend our clients prepare a summary of all their assets and debts and keep it with their important papers. If you Google search “asset checklist for will” you will find a number of very comprehensive checklists from a variety of sources. We also provide a checklist to our clients to fill out and we can provide it to you upon request.
A written checklist is great planning for paper documents, but what about your assets located behind your computer and online passwords. We are told not to write down our passwords and not to use the same password for everything. We have passwords for online banking, customer loyalty cards, social media, music, our wifi-enabled appliances, etc. How should you keep those in a way you could share them if you lost capacity or died? If you Google search “password manager” there are a number of products available. Some of them allow you to share your passwords with others or transfer them to a person if you lose capacity or die. I use the product Password Keeper, which allows me to share my passwords with my wife. If I update the password, it is updated for her in real time as well.
While few people have a wall safe hidden behind the family portrait, they still have assets held in banks, investment companies and on the internet. Do your attorney and executor a favour; record information regarding your physical and digital assets. Besides, they likely don’t look as dashing in a fedora or deerstalker hat anyways.