From Our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: “I change my Wells Fargo Login every so often. How Do My Children Find My Wells Fargo Login After I am Dead?”
Peter Klenk, Estate Planning Lawyer.
How Do My Children Find My Wells Fargo Login After I am Dead?
You found someone’s bank accounts when someone died, “Back in the Day,” by merely waiting for the statements to arrive through the mailslot. Times have changed. Now, bank and financial statements come electronically. Instead of tearing open envelopes, you open them on your laptop, leisurely, over your morning coffee. Your friendly postal deliver person only drops off adds from real estate advisors and those rare, handwritten letters from that great aunt who refuses to use a computer. Not being able to easily find your accounts greatly complicates managing your estate and greatly complicates = makes more expensive. First, your children would need your Email password to see the statements. Second, even if they have accessed our electronic statements, they still need your bank password. Typically, your children have neither password. Plus, it increases the chances of overlooking one or two of your accounts. Follow this link to the Pennsylvania Unclaimed Property website or any state’s site. Thousands of accounts are lost every year, simply because heirs didn’t know where to look.
So, let me rephrase your question, How Do My Children Find My Wells Fargo Login After I am Dead to, “How do my children even find out in which banks I have accounts?”
Is Sharing Passwords the Answer?
Successfully sharing all of your passwords with your heirs is almost impossible. Think about how often you change passwords. Keeping track of them yourself is hard!
If you choose the sharing password route, try using one of the several excellent password apps. These apps allow you to list all your passwords, saved under one master password. This way, you can have hundreds of easily discoverable different passwords. Then, share this one password with your children. Or, if it is on your phone, make sure they can open your phone. Your massive password data bank is useless if it is on your phone, and your children can’t unlock the phone!
Do Your Children Even Need Your Password? (Hint…no)
The short answer is that your children don’t even need most of your passwords. Let me explain. Your executor, after your death, files your will with the county and is Executor. Once recognized, the Executor has the power to access all of your data. Therefore, if they know you have an (or several) accounts at Wells Fargo, they simply have to go to a branch. The Wells Fargo manager will review the paperwork the Executor provides and then give the Executor any and all information under your social security number. The Executor doesn’t need your password, only the knowledge of which banks your use.
But in which banks do you have accounts? How will your Executor know? Remember, I said above your question, “How Do My Children Find My Wells Fargo Login After I am Dead” can be better phrased, “How do my children even find out in which banks I have accounts?”
How the Executor Finds Your Bank Accounts.
If your bank statements come via email, and your children can’t access your email, then your accounts can be lost. For our clients, we have solved this puzzle. Each of our clients has a Summary of their estate planning documents. Part of this Summary is a list of “where do my heirs go when I am dead to secure my assets.” This list doesn’t need account numbers or account balances. All your heirs need is the name of the institution. If you have one account or a hundred accounts at Wells Fargo, your executor only needs to know about Wells Fargo. The Executor goes to a branch, presents credentials, and the bank provides the information on all accounts.
By having a list of institutions, nothing is overlooked. But, as you move accounts or open new accounts, there is no need to update the list. Easy!
Further, to keep this list updated, we email a “nudge” to clients twice a year to review and update the list. The Summary is easily viewed by a link, just like your financial statements. We don’t charge to keep this list of assets updated; it’s a service we provide clients for free.
This list has not only accounts. The list also includes the names and contact information of professionals with your information. You Executor needs to know who is your accountant, life insurance agent, financial advisor, or any other person with important information. We add all of these names to your list. This list saves your Executor weeks or months of searching for assets. Further, it helps prevent your accounts from ending up on the lost property list!
For more detailed information about the Probate Process, see my Article, “Probate and Estate Administration: Everything You Need to Know.”
In Conclusion: How Do My Children Find My Wells Fargo Login After I am Dead.
I hope you found helpful this short article addressing the question, How Do My Children Find My Wells Fargo Login After I am Dead. I have also included some links for more detailed information. If you are curious about Probate, Estate Planning, or other various planning techniques, contact us. Let our Estate Planning lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.
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