Most people I work with haven’t revealed a lot about their estate to their children. And usually, there is no good reason to let your children know all the details about your financial matters. But take a moment and step back – if something were to happen to you, how would your child, your successor trustee, your executor, know where to start?
If you have a trust in place, the first place to look is the trust property exhibit. But that may not address life insurance policies, retirement benefits, and potentially assets acquired since the trust was created.
You may intend that your children get “everything” when you’re gone, but unless there is a map to guide your children to where “everything” is, they may spend many frustrating hours searching through your house and paperwork to try and figure out what is there.
How big of a problem is this? In 2015, the Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that California took in $400 million in income off of unclaimed assets. They estimated that unclaimed property had become the fifth largest source of income for the state.
Your children could lose a valuable life insurance policy because they had no idea it was there and didn’t get the premiums paid while you were incapacitated.
A bank account may just sit because there is nothing at home to indicate you have an account there.
To avoid these problems create, and more importantly, maintain, a list of where things are. Opening a new bank account? Add it to the list. Closing an account? Update the list. Company changing names? Update the list. Oh, and make sure your children know where the list is.
If you think you might have unclaimed property, search the state's Unclaimed Asset Database.