Aug 29, 2019

Securing Vital Records and Accounts

By Heather Kelly

Photo credit: Getty Images

In a previous blog article, I shared some important information about the concierge services that are available to clients from most of the major insurance companies. These services may provide invaluable assistance to older folks who are in need of guidance about the medical resources available to them in their local area.

The subject of assistance for senior people – and the families and friends who support them – is of paramount importance. In this regard, there are several new websites that are providing much-needed services to seniors to help them in this endeavor.

Here are four companies that specialize in offering seniors a variety of online services:

  • LegacyShield - LegacyShield is an easy-to-use, cloud-based platform that enables a subscriber to have a centralized online location where all kinds of legal, financial and personal information can be organized and stored. Documents such as your will, birth certificate, end-of-life directives and life insurance policies can be uploaded to the site, along with essential information such as bank and retirement accounts. In addition, the website encourages subscribers to write their life stories and document family traditions in order to leave a lasting legacy behind to loved ones.
  • Everplans – Similar to LegacyShield, Everplans provides online storage of important information, such as personal contacts, login credentials, and other financial and legal documents. The website offers step-by-step instructions on how to identify and organize your important documents, from insurance policies to investments. The subscriber designates “trusted deputies” and they also decide what information can be accessed on the site, and when. One deputy (for example, a spouse) may be provided access to all the documents, while another (say, an executor) is only granted access after your passing.
  • EverSafe – EverSafe monitors a variety of financial accounts, looking for suspicious activity, unusually large transactions, or other irregularities. If some unusual activities have been detected, the site will alert you via email, text or automated phone call. Alerts can also be sent to trusted family and friends, if desired. The basic service includes the monitoring of bank and credit card accounts, as well as the dark web, where stolen financial information is often auctioned for sale. Credit monitoring and investment account monitoring are available to premium subscribers. For an additional fee, EverSafe can also monitor your home and other real estate property for liens or defaults.
  • Whealthcare – Whealthcare was founded at the intersection where health care meets finances. Subscribers are provided with assessment questionnaires and based on their answers, the Whealthcare website generates a personal “financial caretaking plan” that identifies the issues they’re likely to face as they age. The service also formulates the creation of a plan that designates trusted people to step in as needed. The site also provides a customized to-do list to make sure crucial legal and financial documents are in place.

Another assessment gauges a person’s risk for financial fraud and exploitation, and offers recommendations for protecting against those threats. A “proactive aging plan” helps people prepare for transitions in living arrangements, health care decisions and the operation of motor vehicles, so their wishes can be known.

Alternatives to Online Services

As convenient and useful as these sites are, we also have to recognize that not every person is comfortable with storing personal information online. Given recent data breaches from large companies like Equifax and Capital One, one can understand why some people might hesitate to utilize these kinds of sites.

My Dad is a good example of this. He is a relatively tech savvy person but he is reluctant to put so much personal information online. So instead, he has a sturdy home safe where he stores all of his important documents, such as investment and bank account numbers, insurance policies, a copy of his will, medical directives, a power of attorney, and even his preferences for disposing of his digital assets.

I know all of this because in the event that something should happen to Dad, I will have to travel to New York, open the safe, and use the information in those documents to fulfill his personal wishes and settle his affairs.

In addition to a home safe, one might also consider employing a bank safety deposit box or entrusting one’s important documents to a family member or friend for storage offsite. Or one might request their trusted adviser, such as an attorney, to store the documents at their professional offices for safekeeping.

Sooner Rather Than Later

There are several actions that are critical to executing this kind of plan. First, make sure that all relevant documents have been identified and collected. Second, make a decision about where those documents are to be stored (offsite or online). Finally, make sure that someone you trust has been designated and given the authority to access these documents on your behalf.

It’s so easy to put off this kind of undertaking, to say “I’ll get to it tomorrow.” But it is vital to get it done before it is needed. As I always tell the people around me, “Trying to manage this kind of situation in the heat of the moment is never the best or most opportune time.”

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