As part of your overall financial health, let’s look at an often-overlooked scenario. Hopefully, this is something you’ll never need, but what if you can’t be reached for an extended period of time. Sometimes it as simple as a disconnected phone or change of address, but it could be an unexpected hospital stay or worse.
Here are a few actions that we can all take to improve our financial health if we fall “off the grid” unexpectedly.
1) Add ICE to your cell phone
What is it? ICE (In Case of Emergency) – An emergency responder or law enforcement may be able to contact this person even if your phone is locked.
Action: Using your phone’s Emergency Contact feature or minimally in your Contacts, name the contact ICE and enter their information.
For example, ICE – 1 might be your spouse and ICE- 2 your nearest trusted relative.
2) Add a Trusted Contact to all of your brokerage accounts
What is it? A "trusted contact person" is a person that you authorize your brokerage firm to contact in limited circumstances, such as if your broker has
trouble reaching you or has a reasonable belief that your account may be exposed to possible financial exploitation. Naming someone
as a trusted contact person does not give that person any authority to act on your behalf, execute transactions or engage in activity in your account.
Action: Contact your financial advisor or brokerage firm and provide them with the person’s name, relationship to you, address, phone number and/or email.
3) Create a Letter of Instruction
What is it? A guide for the person who must figure out what to do first in your absence. Although it has no legal authority, it is an easy-to-understand list
Action: Write down at least these 3 items:
- Contacts List – Personal and Professional. 1 or 2 relatives, trusted friends. Financial Advisor, Tax Preparer, Trust/Estate Lawyer,
- Location of Financial Accounts/Asset List (see #4)
- Layout of any wishes. For example, who get sentimental items, which child gets a particular car.
4) Create Financial Accounts/Asset List
What is it? Just a list, nothing fancy. Bank account, Investment accounts, tax returns, birth/marriage certificates, titles/deeds, social security cards.
Also list your social media accounts.
Action: Write down a list with these column headers. Store the final list with your will/trust.
Document/Account Name/Asset, Partial Account Identifier, Location, Owner
Here is an example:
Tip: We’ve created a simple fillable PDF template for you to get started today.
Lastly, make sure your heirs are aware of the letter and list and leave them where they can find them (usually with your will/trust).
Tip: Some clients use the Vault feature available in the Miller Wealth Management Client Center to store a backup, electronic copy of their documents.
From our website, choose Client Center, Client Login. You will see the Vault choice at the top.