Tag Archives: Better Organization

64 Billion reasons to get your ducks in a row

Are your ducks in a row?

We think $58 Billion in unclaimed or misplaced financial assets in the US + $4-$6 Billion in Canada are pretty good reasons to get financially organized. These financial assets were no doubt hard-earned. A good majority of these assets may also be tax paid. $64 Billion or so waiting to be claimed by the individual that lost track or the legal beneficiaries of those assets; It’s a lot of money that could make a really BIG difference to many families and loved ones.

Unclaimed financial assets come in a variety of forms:

  • Bank or Credit Union accounts
  • Stocks/Bonds
  • Uncashed dividends
  • Utility deposits or refunds
  • Other prepaids, deposits or refunds
  • Trust distributions
  • Inheritances
  • Annuities/Pensions
  • Education funds
  • Prepaid funeral contracts
  • Mineral royalties such as oil, gas, or mining
  • Insurance policy claims/refunds
  • Contents of abandoned safe-deposit boxes

Unclaimed financial assets reside in a variety of places:

  • Banks, Credit Unions and Trust Companies
  • Insurance Companies
  • Share Transfer Agents
  • Pension Funds
  • Trust monies held by lawyers or real estate companies
  • Utilities
  • Funeral Homes
  • Investment management companies
  • Retailers (Gift Cards/Credits)
  • Government treasuries or agencies

While held initially by a variety of ‘holder’ organizations or institutions, unclaimed assets residing in the US or 3 of the Provinces in Canada with Unclaimed Property legislation in place will, after a set period of time, be forwarded to the State/Provincial or Federal treasury. Those assets will be safeguarded and reported into an online search base where hopefully the legal owners or heirs will find those assets and make a claim. Many US jurisdictions are very proactive about looking for owners.For example, many State treasury departments will engage in outreach activities at baseball games, summer fairs and shopping malls with the specific purpose being to find unclaimed money for visitors. It is common place in most US states to publish the entire database in the local paper, once or twice a year.

The US estimates that 1 in 10 Americans has unclaimed funds belonging to them

The US knows a lot about Unclaimed or lost financial assets because they have kept really good records over the 50+ years or so that they have had such legislation in place.The same can not be said for Canada despite how socially progressive Canada might be in many other areas.

Only 2 provinces in Canada (Alberta and Quebec) have comprehensive unclaimed property legislation in place and provide searchable databases. BC has a voluntary, less comprehensive system in place

The Bank of Canada has over $1 Billion in Unclaimed Money

The Bank of Canada on its own has over $1 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets in the form of Unclaimed bank accounts and Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds. While there is a searchable database available online for unclaimed bank accounts which total over $532 Million, there is no such database for Unclaimed but matured Canada Savings Bonds which total over $500 Million. No one from the Bank of Canada s looking for those legal owners. We know because we asked.

Bank of CanadaThe amount of unclaimed financial assets is a staggering amount and so too is the rate of increase of financial assets becoming lost or unclaimed. The Unclaimed Bank account balance with the Bank of Canada increased by a net amount of $36 Million in 2013 or 7.3% making for a 5 year (net) increase of $181 Million. The value of unclaimed but matured Canada Savings Bonds increased $105 Million in the year ending April 2013.

 

Please get your ducks in a row

These alarming increases in unclaimed financial assets in combination with in Canada, a lack of comprehensive unclaimed property legislation for a majority of hard-working Canadians and their families should be sufficient evidence of the need to safeguard and protect information relating to financial assets appropriately. No one will safeguard your information as well as You can.

Helping with that challenge, is one of the core missions behind LegacyTracker.

 

Get organized and reduce Personal Financial stress

Reduce personal financial stress by getting organized

A little organization can go a long way to reducing personal financial stress

A recent national survey conducted for the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) found that money is the leading source of stress among Canadians. Money and financial matters are a bigger stressor than work, personal health or relationships. 51% of women and 40% of men are losing sleep over financial worries and almost half or 45% are embarrassed about their lack of control over finances.   Highlights of the survey on financial stress can be found here 

Unlike other kinds of stress that can make your adrenaline go into overdrive and raise your energy level which can lead to a fight or flight response, financial stress is different. Financial stress often leads to a debilitating form of mental burden that is hard to shake and can have other long-term consequences of the very unfavorable kind.

What’s the answer?  How can you reduce personal financial stress?

  1. Breathe
  2. Organize
  3. Embrace Technology
  4. Review
  5. Simplify

Answer: All of the above and keep them going

Dealing with “cluttered” finances & personal financial stress can be debilitating

Organization is a key and positive first step to successful personal financial management & reducing stress that can help you achieve future success.  Organization & simplifying are both BIG stress reducers. Organization goes beyond where things are. Organization is about knowing what you have which is way better than not knowing and imaging the worst.

Knowing what you have is the first step in moving forward towards what you want to achieve and where you want to be down the road. Knowing what you have on an ongoing basis will help you monitor your progress and keep you motivated towards your goals.

Our web-based LegacyTracker personal financial organizer helps you reduce personal financial stress by helping you to organize and:

  1. Safeguard important documents by scanning/saving them inside LegacyTracker
  2. Enhance your peace of mind by sharing important information you wish to share with your loved ones or professional advisors
  3. Receive reminders and alerts about what you still need to do in terms of being organized around your personal financial affairs

Organization can also help you Assimilate, Eliminate, or Consolidate helping you to Simplify

The process of becoming more organized can better highlight the fact that you might have multiple accounts or providers that can be consolidated or eliminated which will mean less paperwork management and maybe reduced costs over the longer term. You might also find while you are organizing, that you have gaps or opportunities that you had not taken care of previously because they were missed in some of the clutter

Getting organized is a Gift to you AND your family in the short and longer term. Disorganized personal financial/estate information can cause additional grief, expense & stress inadvertently for a loved one that you care about. Helping a spouse or family member or friend organize their own affairs is also a gift worth offering.

Our LegacyTracker financial organizing tool provides the ability to share what you want to share with loved ones or advisors for that specific reason. LegacyTracker can help you and your family members reduce personal financial stress

 

Sharing is caring

Family Finances – Sharing is Caring

They say Sharing is Caring in life..& we think that’s particularly true with regards to your Family Finances …

Money management & communication is key when thinking about your family; your family’s emotional & physical survival often hinges on financial stability. Shared & effective communication about money matters is critical to money management but in many families defined roles are established where one spouse takes on the role CFO/Administrator and the other becomes reliant on their spouse to manage the family finances and keep it all ‘together’. It might work; but it’s a risk. It can increase the pressure & responsibility that one spouse feels with managing all that information while the other spouse is left dangerously vulnerable.

It’s not an ideal situation because we all know that life can take unpredictable twists, like a divorce, a death or an incapacity. That’s one of many reasons that we developed LegacyTracker..we think It’s critical that information is at minimum shared if not managed together. Our friend Mark Goodfield who blogs as the Blunt Bean Counter has written extensively on the topic of Stress Testing your finances for a sudden death.  He emphasizes the need for an information checklist for executors/spouses in case of death.

In combination with defining your goals together, we think sharing this information together will enable you to make wiser choices and reach those goals successfully.

LegacyTracker – allows flexible sharing – as little or as much as you wish. Share with your loved ones or your financial advisors or your executor.

Here is a list of some of the details that can be documented & stored inside LegacyTracker:

  1. Assets: including bank accounts, registered/non registered investments, real property, personal property & business assets etc.
  2. Liabilities—including loans, credit card debt, mortgages, lines of credit, business liabilities etc.
  3. Contacts-including medical contacts, professional advisors and family
  4. Digital Assets-including loyalty & reward programs, logons & passwords etc.
  5. Insurance-including disability, property, life, group as well as home & auto
  6. Estate Planning —including Power of Attorneys, Wills, Ethical Wills, Final wishes, Letters etc.
  7. Health & Medical—including immunizations, contacts, history etc.

When you consolidate all of the important information into one secure place in an organized manner we think the benefits are many for you and your loved ones.  LegacyTracker is not just about peace of mind & emergency preparedness in case of a physical or natural disaster or a death or incapacity. It’s about living – simplifying & securing your information which we believe is empowering . Knowing what you have and what you need to work on will help you become more proactive about your financial & estate planning goals.  That’s the mission behind LegacyTracker.

More about the what and why of LegacyTracker

LegacyTracker essentially ? A branded online solution that helps Users organize their personal financial & estate records in order to become more empowered with their own information

Longer Description:  A web-based personal financial management (PFM) & organizing tool that helps individuals and families bring all of their important information & documents  together simply and securely, allowing them to better track progress towards financial goals, be more proactive about financial/estate planning & be better prepared for an emergency.  As a branded offering, LegacyTracker provides an opportunity for Organizations to build more valued relationships with their clients, account holders, employees or members.

LegacyTracker Screenshot

Our Mission:

We are on a mission to help individuals & families simplify, safeguard, share & succeed  by

  1. Reducing the risk that users will become separated from their hard-earned financial assets
  2. Helping users GET OUT from under their paperwork so they can engage in more proactive financial & estate planning
  3. Ensuring that users are better prepared for WHAT IF situations
  4. Helping users facilitate important conversations with family & advisors about estate planning  issues

We think that organizations offering our web-based & branded personal financial/estate organizing solution to clients, account holders, employees or members is a WIN/WIN opportunity. Get in touch and connect with us to learn more: info@legacytracker.com

2013 Extreme Weather events added up to Extreme Insurance Claims

2013 was certainly a year for Extreme weather events

The Insurance Bureau of Canada released their findings in January of this year on the impact severe weather in Canada in 2013 had on insurance claims. The weather was EXTREME and so were the CLAIMS as summarized in this Infographic 

Companies paid out $ 3.2 BILLION  to policyholders. That’s almost a $ 1.2 billion increase from the previous high. That makes for 5 years in a row of natural disaster losses for the insurance industry that hit the $1 billion mark.

“In 2013, the terrible effects of the new weather extremes hit Canadians hard. From the Alberta floods last summer to the ice storms in Ontario and Atlantic Canada over the holidays, frankly, bad weather hit insurers hard, too,” says Don Forgeron, President and CEO, IBC.

The largest insured disaster – and Canada’s costliest natural disaster ever – was the June 2013 torrential rainfall that flooded towns in southern Alberta.  Insured damage for that storm was more than $1.74 billion. The flash flooding that hit Toronto in July resulted in $940M in damages; the most expensive insured natural disaster in Ontario’s history

And then of course, there were the December ice storms that hit southern Ontario and eastern Canada. Some $200 million in claims were made for homes damaged by trees that fell as a result of ice buildup. Ontario-based insurers also paid more than $25 million in claims for vehicles damaged in that storm

As Mr. Forgeron also points out “Canadian communities are seeing more severe weather, especially more intense rainfall. This overburdens our sewer and storm water infrastructure, resulting in more sewer backups in homes and businesses, Property and casualty insurers are collaborating with all three levels of government to help Canadians adapt to these new weather realities,” 

All of us should also adapt to these new weather realities by enhancing our level of emergency preparedness..

That’s a core mission behind LegacyTracker 

 

Life is…. complicated. Death more so. Get Organized.

Orginally published Jan 13 2013

Stop procrastinating…Get your stuff together (please)….

This is a poster published first in the Wall Street in 2011 – It’s a good one..with an article from Saabira Chaudhuri titled “The 25 documents you need before you Die”  It’s cdrtainly an attention grabber.

25 important documents article

It’s a great poster and a fascinating story which talks about the financial consequences that befalls your family and loved ones if you fail to keep all your documents and important papers in order. In the US where they track, report and actively look for owners of unclaimed funds they know that the toll is great. $33B (now $58B) approximately in unclaimed bank accounts and other assets like paid up insurance policies.

You may or may not know (maybe this is your first visit here) that Canada is not so lucky. Only 2 provinces have any real unclaimed intangible property legislation in place (Alberta & Quebec).  That’s not the way it should be but that’s the way it is right now in Canada.

That sad fact, makes it even more critical to ensure that your records are organized and shared to make sure you reduce the financial risk that comes from not being so organized. So yes. Please stop procrastinating around this topic.

Read the article from the Wall Street Jounal here 

BMO study finds many Canadians unaware what investments they hold

A BMO study released in April 2012 made note of these results:

Approximately 80 % of Canadians were confident in their investment portfolio, but …..nearly 50% were unaware what investments they actually had..

Many not aware of their investments

BMO made these suggestions when they released the report:

  • The key is to monitor and add to your investments all year round.
  • Consistently examine your portfolio to make sure that diversification exists between stocks, bonds, cash and real-estate
  • Look to the long-term instead of the short-term as often times, Investors are scared by volatile markets and focus on the potential for short term-loss
  • The best fix includes consolidating your assets to keep track of where your money is being held.

As an accountant, I know first hand that many of my clients when I was in public practice were (and most likely are still) part of these stats. I know because I opened up a lot of their mail each April in order to prepare their tax returns (!) It’s one of the many reasons that I felt the need to develop LegacyTracker.

LegacyTracker can help you with these suggestions. Legacy Tracker offers individuals and families a simple, comprehensive and common sense online solution for monitoring, tracking, sharing and safeguarding important financial, legal and estate information.