We know the importance of keeping accurate records of our assets, such as our bank accounts and investments, during our life. However, what most of us don’t stop to consider are the issues that can arise post mortem when those records are not organized or easily found. By way of example, two abandoned accounts belonging to the late Brooke Astor were recently discovered. The legal battles over the philanthropist and New York City socialite 's estate began in 2007 when the she died at age 105.
The two discovered accounts were apparently both “addressed to the attention of her son, Anthony D. Marshall." A bank, such as Citibank, is required to advertise accounts that have more than $50 within the account. Based upon Astor’s wealth, even her grandson does not believe that there is only $50 in the accounts. Generally, if no one claims the money within the account, the money goes to the state comptroller's office, where the state comptroller attempts to locate the owner. In this case, when the account value is determined, it will be divided according to the settlement agreement that was agreed upon in March of this year.
See Russ Buettner, Abandoned Bank Accounts of Brooke Astor's Surface, Their Value a Secret, New York Times, Sept. 7, 2012.
I’ve encountered similar issues in the administration of several estates. If accurate records are not kept in an organized, known place and manner, a successor trustee or personal representative is left searching for clues as to what assets are part of the estate. Upon your passing, the administration of your estate can be streamlined and simplified if the asset information in your Estate Planning Portfolio is kept up to date. Our tabbed trust binders are a convenient and logical place to gather your asset information. In addition to providing access to important documents, the portfolio includes various schedules, lists and estate planning information to assist you in keeping your portfolio current. For instance, the Trust Property section provides a convenient place to list all the assets which have been transferred into the name of your Trust. This section is also a place where you can keep copies of all documents of ownership for your Trust assets.
The small amount of effort necessary to keep your portfolio current will be abundantly rewarded by your own peace of mind and the knowledge that you have made things much easier for your family and beneficiaries.
Contributed by MH Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney Andrea Claus
Why Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall? First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters. Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones. We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership. If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.