A financial “spring cleaning” checklist from State Treasurer Clint Zweifel
Monday, April 15, 2013
Keeping finances in order can help keep property from becoming Unclaimed Property
JEFFERSON CITY – State Treasurer Clint Zweifel (ZWY-ful) is providing Missourians a financial “spring cleaning” checklist he hopes they will use to keep their finances in order and their property from becoming Unclaimed Property.
“There are a few simple steps each of us can take on a regular basis to keep our records up-to-date and our estates in order,” Treasurer Zweifel said. “It is important that we check on our accounts, safe deposit boxes, life insurance policies and wills. By making sure that our contact information is correct, our fees are paid up and changes made, Missourians can help keep their property where it belongs and avoid having to file Unclaimed Property claims to get it back.”
Here are a few “spring cleaning” tips for your finances:
For more information about Unclaimed Property or to search for your property, visit www.ShowMeMoney.com.
- Make sure your bank has your current information. If you have moved or changed your name, be sure to inform your bank.
- Check your safe deposit boxes. Make sure your fees are paid and keep an inventory of the contents of your box. Be sure to add new items if necessary and remove items that no longer need to be kept in your box. Let a trusted family member or your estate planner know where your safe deposit box information is kept. Consider adding a trusted individual as a box signatory.
- Create and update your Virtual Asset Instruction Letter (VAIL). A virtual asset is any information you store online and any device you use to access that information. Examples include computers, smart phones, email accounts, and online banking and investment accounts. Your VAIL should list all website addresses, usernames and passwords. Keep your VAIL secure by saving it to a CD or a memory stick and storing it in a safe place. Be sure to update your VAIL with new accounts, new passwords and let a trusted family member or your estate planner know how to access it.
- Change your passwords. It is a good idea to change your passwords at least once a year to protect your various accounts – email, social media, and online banking and investment accounts.
- Update your email address. It is not uncommon for individuals to change their primary email address. Make sure that you let your bank, life insurance provider, investment advisor and estate planner know if this is a form of communication you use to contact them.
- Prepare or update your estate planning documents. Unfortunately, we never know when we will need to have our estate planning in order. Having a plan for your assets in the event of your death will ensure that your assets are distributed in the manner that you chose and will allow your heirs to receive their inheritance in a timely manner. In your estate planning documents, consider including a revocable living trust and/or beneficiary designations to avoid probate.
- Check your investments. IRAs, 401Ks, CDs, pensions and more need your updated information. If you’ve moved, changed your email address or would like to update beneficiaries, make sure to do so on a regular basis.
- Check your securities. Many Missourians invest in stocks and bonds. It is important that you keep your information up to date on these investments including your name, address, email and beneficiaries.
- Check your life insurance policies and beneficiary information. Treasurer Zweifel has received more than $17 million in Unclaimed Property from unclaimed life insurance policies. Make sure your life insurance company has your correct information and that of your beneficiaries to help keep this money from becoming Unclaimed Property.
- Check for Unclaimed Property. Treasurer Zweifel holds nearly $700 million for more than 4.3 million account holders. He adds new property to his database every week. You can search for Unclaimed Property 24 hours a day at www.ShowMeMoney.com. While there, you can also sign up for email notifications and email search results to family and friends you find on the list.
About Treasurer Zweifel’s Unclaimed Property
State law requires financial institutions, insurance companies, public agencies and other business entities to turn over assets to Treasurer Zweifel that belong to a customer, client, employee or other owner if there have been no documented transactions or contact with the owner for five or more years. Most Unclaimed Property consists of cash from bank accounts, stocks, bonds and contents of safe deposit boxes that have been abandoned. It also can include uncollected insurance policy proceeds, government refunds, utility deposits and wages from past jobs. Treasurer Zweifel does not handle real property such as land and houses or certain types of personal property such as cars and boats. There is $700 million in Unclaimed Property maintained by Treasurer Zweifel. Treasurer Zweifel never charges for the return of Unclaimed Property.