Elder Financial Spring Cleaning: Account Consolidation

Elders often accumulate many financial accounts over the years.  Sometimes this results in accounts getting lost, funds that sit unused, and a heart-stopping stack of statements.  It can be frightening - how do you climb such an obstacle?

Statements and Correspondence.  Locate all the financial statements and correspondence that can be found.  It doesn't matter if they're opened, unopened, new or old.  Sort them by bank, investment firm or other financial institution.  Place them in manila folders in chronological order. Label each folder with the name of the organization.

Review for Dollar Amount and Date.  Look for statements with small dollar amounts - you might start with $1,000.  And look for old statements.  

Consolidate Accounts.  Whatever the dollar amount you've chosen, determine if it's possible to close the accounts that hold less than that amount and deposit the funds into your working checking account or into an investment account.  With old statements, call the organization and see if they still have the money.  You may have to fill out an unclaimed property report.  Click here for information on California unclaimed property.  Put the money you receive into your working checking account or into an investment account.  Mark files you've completed with the date closed.  Check them again in 30 days to be sure odd bits of interest aren't keeping them open.

Aim for fewer accounts, less paid out in bank fees, and an estate that is easier to manage.  Don't forget FDIC insurance stops at $250,000.  If you have questions about any of this, talk with your CPA or estate planning attorney.