I rarely visit the banking halls nowadays. Most of my banking transactions are conducted via the Internet and through the ATM machines at my local branch. I have not been to the banking hall for more than six months. If its’ imperative that I must go, it’s either I’m depositing money or probably making one or two enquiries. This has made life easier for me and also for a lot of Nigerians who conduct their banking transactions online. This has also led to multiple passwords and pin codes for the various cards that I carry in my wallet.
After posting my article on retirement, I thought of what happens when a loved one passes on and his/her relatives do not have access to the passwords and pin codes to the bank accounts; what happens in such a situation? So, I ask myself if we’re creating more technological mess for our heirs when we die. I worked briefly in the banking industry and observed that 80% of the dormant accounts were a result of heirs or family members who are not aware of the various accounts the deceased had before his/her untimely death. Getting access to your financial accounts is imperative for your family members if you die, become incapacitated or you’re involved in a ghastly road accident that leaves you and your spouse either dead or paralyzed. Imagine what happens in the event of such a crisis where you find family members running helter skelter to raise funds and thereby incurring a huge amount of debt. For most families in Nigeria, the world virtually comes to a standstill when the breadwinner dies. Imagine what could happen; school fees will be left unpaid, neglected investment accounts could suffer losses, burial expenses will be incurred, financial accounts may never be claimed and the list is endless.Here are some of the things you can do to avert such a crisis:
· Appoint an executor for your financial estate: this could be your brother, sister, parents or even your eldest child so long as he/she is 21years (this is the legal age in Nigeria). Your executor should have your current login password to your online accounts and computer, so that in the event of any sad occurrence, financial decisions can be made on your behalf. You should also make a list of all your assets, debts, mortgages (if any) and pin codes for any cards you may currently hold on an excel spreadsheet. Remember to password this particular file and leave the password in a place your executor can have easy access to.
· Keep your financial documents safe: this includes your account numbers, online IDs and passwords, birth and marriage certificates, email IDs and passwords, pin codes, life insurance papers, will, trust deeds, certificate of occupation in a safe envelope and go down to your local bank branch and keep it in a safe deposit box. Also include answers to secret questions such as mother’s maiden name, your city of birth and your pet’s first name. The banks usually charge an annual fee for such a service. First Bank offers such a service. Also make extra certified copies of all documents relating to your financial estate and keep it in the your executor’s custody. Inform your executor where these documents are kept and of course, write a letter of authority to the bank or lawyer authorizing your executor to act on your behalf in the event of any mishap.
· Keep your executor and children prepared: stash an emergency fund for such an event by making your eldest child or executor a joint signatory to the account, to keep things running smoothly till the details of your financial estate are sorted out.