|By Holly Herman, Reading Eagle, Pa.|
The restaurant owner dies, leaving the heirs without an inventory of his online bank accounts.
Without proper documentation, the executor of his estate could easily miss an account that could have a lot of money in it.
"The less information the deceased leaves, the more work it is for the heirs," said
"It's important that when someone prepares a will that they have a list of the accounts ready," he said, noting that it's not hard to track down assets in an account with an online-only bank, like
In the past five years, consumers have been doing more and more of their banking transactions online, including cyber accounts that are available only online.
They predict that in the next decade young adults will do all of their banking online.
"The kids will not be walking into a bank," said
Work said clients are putting their money into cyber financial institutions such as
But, he said, that these type of accounts are just the tip of the iceberg.
"If you do business with the large financial institutions, they encourage you to do everything online," Work said. "Once you get use to it, it's really neat."
Work, who has been doing estate work for 35 years, said that about 15 years ago he started advising his clients to write a letter of intent to go along with a will to make it easier for heirs.
The letter should contain all relevant information on assets, including passwords for online accounts, he said.
"There is a lot of grief and emotions when you lose someone close," Work said. "Having the account passwords takes away a step for the lawyers and takes away a lot of anxiety."
Work said having a roadmap to the assets ready makes the settlement of an estate a lot easier.
"In years past, you could not find a stock certificate," Ott said. "With online banking, it's another challenge. Passwords are not locatable."
"We have situations where executors walk in with shoe boxes of documents they have found in the house," Ott said. "Other clients are very organized and have everything on a spreadsheet."
Ott said if financial affairs are organized in advance, legal fees are reduced.
Ott said many people will avoid the topic of writing a will.
"People will push the topic off because they don't want to think of their own mortality," Ott said. "It may not be a topic parents want discuss with the next generation."
Ott said that he had a case in which a daughter drove her mother to the bank every week and the mother didn't say what she was doing.
"The child later found a safe deposit box stuffed with cash," Ott said.
Ott said that cyber assets are just another place where assets can hide.
"People need to organize their financial affairs for the sake of their family," Ott said. "The sad situations are when people's mental faculties are declining."
Edwards said that if the access information on all accounts is not provided it could be difficult for the attorney or executor to track the assets.
"The less information provided, the greater chance you will miss something," Edwards said.
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|Source:||McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|