I recently received a call from a client who informed me that her husband was in the hospital and in very bad shape. She needed some help with a few things, so I set an appointment and went out to see her. We were reviewing her monthly expenses when we came to the mortgage payment, she said her husband handled that.
Me: “O.K. What’s the name of your mortgage company?”
Client: “I don’t know, he handles that.”
Me: “Do you have any statements?”
Client: “I don’t know. I think he is paperless. It’s on his Email.”
Me: “On that laptop over there?”
Me: “Do you have the password?”
Client: “I don’t know where that is.”
Me: “Do you know the email address the statements are being sent to?”
Client: “I have no idea. I know the mortgage is being paid automatically out of his bank account each month. He has it timed to come out after his Social Security deposit.”
Me: “If, God forbid, he passes away. The Social Security payments will stop and the mortgage payment could bounce. You don’t’ have any statements or remember the name of the mortgage company?”
Client: “I just don’t remember?”
Of course, this also applied to all the other accounts and policies that he had set up as paperless.
The good news is that her husband is making a comeback. I went back out to see them. When I asked about it, she still hadn’t discussed the passwords or the fact that she didn’t know where anything was. Passwords change all the time, so he printed out the statements and they set up paper files. Going paperless can be great, but spouses and beneficiaries need to have hard copies with account numbers stored in a secure location in the event of emergency, incapacitation or death. Just get that stuff in a file.