Daily Dupaco

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What's in a name?

Have you reviewed how your accounts are titled lately?

Much like going to the doctor for an annual physical, it's important to get a financial checkup at least once a year. 

It offers an opportunity to re-evaluate your budget, loans, savings, investments and insurance.

But there's another commonly overlooked, yet equally important, reason to get a financial checkup: It's a time to review how your financial accounts are titled.

"Every time you open an account at any financial institution, they have to say how the account is owned," says Tami Rechtenbach, vice president of member services at Dupaco. "It lets us know who has access to the money, how they can access the money and when they can access the money. It all hinges on how we title that account."

But life happens. And some major life changes – a divorce, a new grandchild, you name it – might affect who you want to have access to your accounts or who you want named as beneficiaries.

"People need to be diligent in asking the right questions to make sure things are the way they want it before something happens to them," Rechtenbach says. "When they're talking to their member services rep and working on their account, they need to ask, 'If something were to happen to me, what would happen with this money?'"

Rechtenbach has seen cases where people divorce, remarry, never update their accounts and later pass away. "Instead of the current spouse getting the money from the IRA or insurance policy, it went to the ex-spouse because they forgot to make sure everything was titled correctly," she says.

Another example: Many grandparents renew CDs and make them payable on death to their grandchildren. If a grandparent forgets to update the arrival of a new grandchild, the youngest member of the family will be left out.

"What is on your account card at the credit union trumps the will," says Rechtenbach. "I don't think people realize how important it is for those account cards to be titled exactly the way they want it to go."

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