We’ve been there. We have witnessed clients, family, and friends suffer the frustration, agony, and expense (in many ways) of looking for bank accounts, insurance policies, the “Will”, assets of almost any description. Why?
When an illness occurs, who picks up the responsibility for care? Who knows where to look for these things, and what to look for? Was there a Long-Term Care policy? Were premiums paid to keep it active? When a death occurs, who knows where the bank accounts are? The life insurance policy? Was there a policy? More than one?
When the assets are found, is there certainty that all were found?
Our founder spent a difficult year searching for assets, property and documents when he was the executor of his Aunt’s estate. He subsequently created Heir Atlas to safeguard his own, and his family’s, financial intentions. Heir Atlas is for you as well, to be certain that your information is updated, complete and available when needed.
“But we have a list; we take care of it!” What conventional approaches are used?
Many use an attorney for their will, etc., and for their storage of documents.
Many use a “shoe box” in their closet (or safe deposit box) for the accumulation of policies, statements and documents.
Many use a spreadsheet for the listing of assets and advisors…
Many lean on Agents or planners for the listing and updating of assets.
And, of course, the standard “he/she knows!”
These methods are not foolproof; in fact, they usually don’t work without omissions or lapses. A common misconception is that a Will takes care of everything. This is not the case. A Will does not come into play with ill health, Long-Term Care, or any scenario while you’re alive. And even upon death, it is used primarily for disposition and might not deal with insurance policies, all financial accounts, physical assets, etc.
Our attorneys or advisors may retire or pre-decease us!
Investment accounts (stocks, bonds, IRAs and 401(k)s) are sometimes forgotten and result in transfer to the state as unclaimed funds. There exists $46,000,000,000 in “unclaimed funds” nationwide. That’s billions, with a “B”. Is any of it yours, even today? How about relatives, living and dead? Have you checked in states where you lived previously?
Approximately 21% of life insurance claims are paid to unintended beneficiaries (pre-deceased spouses, divorced individuals, out-of-favor charities, etc.). It seems updating intentions and information is a sometimes thing!
Some life insurance policies never pay due to survivors not realizing a policy even existed, so no claim is made.
Some Long-Term-Care policies go unused, even lapse due to policy holder’s aging memory and omitted premium payments.
Money doesn’t always go where it’s intended. As we mature and life gets busy, we tend to ignore the need to keep an eye on these things. We tend to ignore the need to update the information as we face life’s experiences. These experiences alter our lives, our direction, and our outcome.
Most people think they’re “all set” with regard to these issues. Be honest with yourself…would your beneficiary or caregiver know where to look? Would they be able to find everything? Would they know whom to call? How about that little investment on the side? How about that loan to your friend? Your “alternative investments” such as hidden diamonds or the baseball cards? Or that little piece of real estate three counties away?
Have you ever dealt with, or were you exposed to, an elderly relative and the estate? Have you had to deal with organizing and following through on their intentions or wishes? If you were a beneficiary, how would you know that you received all that was intended?
The three financial industry silos (banks, investment houses, insurance companies) are largely singular in their approach to your well-being, and don’t overlap with other financial institutions. It is up to you to coordinate and control your information and wishes.
Of course, the logical first step is to put the information (or directions to follow) into one place. A second important step would be to tell someone (or several someones) where to look. A very important part would be to review and update the information on a regularly scheduled basis. Sounds easy as a concept but we know from experience that, in practice, it isn’t.
Through Heir Atlas we’ve created a “Dynamic” storage facility…dynamic in the sense that we will be communicating with you at regular intervals urging you to update your information. You may be dealing with a new bank account, or making changes in your overall plan. We may be urging you to review your beneficiaries or update your health care proxy. We will not need account numbers or values, only location…you will have control…we are a “directional hub”.
A Directional Hub?
We represent a central location where your caregiver or significant other or heirs can go to get the information without the “shoe box” concerns. The Heir Atlas program incorporates your “Trusted Parties” whom we will reach out to annually, to ensure their continued (or replaced) participation for your welfare. Their purpose will be to help you in time of emergency, utilizing the information you’ve left for them, or as a recipient of that information in case of death. These Trusted Parties might (or might not) include the advisors you’ve been dealing with already (e.g. attorney, accountant). However, these Trusted Parties are very frequently relatives or close friends; it will be your choice. For as long as you want them, and they are willing to serve in that capacity, they will be carried by our system for you.
Separately, you can list “Trusted Advisers” for the possible provision of helpful information to your Trusted Parties.
We have created a system that is Organized, Dynamic and Complete.
We foresee the day when the use of central locations, used to very simply store “road maps”, will become normal rather than new and the exception. The day is fast approaching…
We are a unique company with only one mission: to safeguard your financial intentions.