If you are tasked with being the Executor or Administrator of the estate of a lost loved one who left this world too soon, you know that whilst still grieving you must act in an administrative role to close out their affairs. After organising the funeral, the next step is to ascertain the lost loved one’s assets and liabilities.
Typical assets and liabilities may include, for example:
- real estate
- personal loans
- bank accounts
- credit cards
- furniture and household appliances
- shares and other investments
- business holdings
- insurance policies
Determining the Liabilities is generally quite easy because more often than not, correspondence about the liability is received monthly via post (such as a loan statement). However, the assets can be a little bit more tricky to work out, especially for those born in 1980 or later, considering the adoption and outright reliance of technology compared to those born a generation before.
Considering the reliance on technology and heavy mobile phone use of the new generation, we have identified the top 8 assets that could be missed if you are handling the estate of someone who passed away in their 30’s:
It is common for a 30 year old in Australia to chop and change jobs like they are changing their underwear. Given that employers often have preferred superannuation providers (especially from industry to industry), it is therefore not uncommon for a person to have multiple superannuation accounts which were established and contributed towards in each new role. Although the majority of superannuation funds could be allocated in one particular fund, conducting a search of lost super through the Australian Taxation Office is a wise idea. Not to mention if the death occurred as an accident, multiple superannuation accounts should mean multiple insurance policies. Most superannuation funds include insurance cover for unexpected death – in this case, you should enquire about the super fund’s death benefit policy and make a dependency claim accordingly.
Identifying whether a deceased person held any shares can be complicated. The holder of shares which are listed on the Australian Stock Exchange can usually be identified by contacting either of the main share registries – i.e. Computershare or Link Market Services. However, not all shares are listed on the stock exchange. It is possible that the deceased invested in a privately (not publicly) traded business/company/partnership. Contacting the deceased’s accountant may be the best way to identify this, otherwise you may have to do some digging through their bank records or making enquiries share trading platforms (such as NABTrade, Commsec, or Self Wealth).
#3 Loaned Money to Others
Similar to privately held investments such as unlisted shares in organisations, it is possible that the deceased lent money to an entity, or even a friend. These organisations or ‘friends’ may think that the death of the lender means that they do not have to pay back the money. This is not true, and it is best to make them aware of that fact so that they can be accountable and the loaned money can be recovered. Identifying personal loans given to others can be tricky without appropriate records. It may require digging through bank statements to identify large or regular payments made to individuals and making the appropriate queries.
#4 Online Investment Accounts
Not everyone keeps their money in a standard bank account such as the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ, or NAB. A person in their 30’s who is tech savvy may invest their money in alternative style investment accounts. An example of this may be an ‘online only’ bank that offers high interest or term deposit accounts (e.g. Ubank). Often these banks don’t send paper statements and don’t have physical branches. Another example of online investment accounts are ‘microinvesting’ platforms such as RAIZ (formerly ‘Acorns’) which currently operate by a mobile app only. Microinvesting means that small amounts are frequently deducted from your ordinary bank account and invested on your behalf to grow a ‘rainy day fund’. RAIZ, like many other online-only investment accounts, do not issue paper statements. So unless you notice regular transfers on a bank statement of the deceased, its possible that thousands of dollars invested online would not get identified and would not get passed along through will or intestacy laws as it ought to be.
This one is particularly tricky. An early investment made in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), or Ripple (XRP) could potentially be worth $100,000’s today. These funds are most commonly held in one of two ways:
- Online, though an ‘exchange’ such as Independent Reserve, or Coinspot (both Australian crypto-exchanges) or Binance (currently the world’s largest crypto-exchange).
- Offline, either in a ‘digital wallet’ that can look like a USB drive or even a credit card, or written down on paper or stored in a text file on a computer.
If you suspect that the deceased may have held cryptocurrency, it would be wise to contact all relevant online exchanges to ascertain whether they held an account and what that account is worth. If the deceased held cryptocurrency offline – there is little to no chance of ever recovering it unless they provided you (or their lawyer alongside a copy of their will for example) with instructions on where it is and what the relevant security keys and passwords are to access the currency.
#6 Money Held in Online Betting Accounts
Punting is a great Australian pastime and with each generation that does not seem to change. However most betting these days is not conducted by visiting your local TAB – it is done online through online betting agencies such as Sportsbet or Bet365 as examples. Chances are if you know they have one account, they actually have multiple accounts with various websites. In this case, there could easy be hundreds of dollars sitting in these accounts that has not been used. If the deceased loved a good punt (and even if they didn’t) we recommend writing to the most common websites to identify if they have an account in the name of the deceased and the value of that account.
#7 Frequent Flyer & Other Rewards Points
Savvy spenders make sure they are getting rewarded for their spend. This is achieved by using rewards bearing credit cards (especially AMEX) which give you points over time per every dollar spent. These points can often either be redeemed for cash or transferred to frequent flyer schemes such as the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, or Virgin’s Velocity program. Points can sometimes be very easily accumulated considering many banks offer large points bonuses when signing up to rewards programs for the first time. Points values for even new members to rewards programs can therefore be worth thousands of dollars. These points usually come with fine print whereby the points expire if you cease accruing them. So it is important that you do not delay in ascertaining whether the deceased held rewards points in order to transfer them to a family member before they expire.
#8 Video Game Currency
There is a world online that many may consider foreign and outright strange, but it is becoming more mainstream as the years tick on. Video games frequently have a digital economy used to trade upgrades and ‘skins’ (which are simply different designs that are overlaid on the video game for a different appearance). Some of these upgrades/skins are rare and highly sought after by other players and therefore worth a lot of real life money to other players (e.g. over $1,000 per ‘skin’ in some instances). Games that use virtual assets which can be traded for real life dollars are World of Warcraft, Counterstrike, Fortnite, Second Life – just to name a few. In order to identify whether the deceased had a valuable player account might require access to their computer or a conversation with their close friends.
That concludes our list. If you require expert assistance with your duties as executor/administrator, identifying assets and liabilities, or writing a will to ensure that these assets don’t get forgotten about – contact ROCHE Legal today.