MMMT: Are you Prepared in Case Tragedy Strikes?

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Are you Prepared in Case Tragedy Strikes?

Monday Morning Miles Talk is a regular series that has some smaller, more quirky ideas to kick off the work week.  These are essentially random ideas that I wanted to share with you.  Here are the 4 most recent topics.

If you would like to read even more articles in the series you can click HERE.

Are you Prepared in Case Tragedy Strikes?

Are you Prepared in Case Tragedy Strikes?

In last weeks edition of Monday Morning Miles Talk I went a little off course from traditional miles and points blogging.  Today I am going to stay in that realm. I want to talk about whether or not you have properly prepared your loved ones in case something terrible should happen to you.

I have been thinking about this for a few weeks, if something should happen to me I don’t think my wife would know how to handle our accounts.  And I don’t mean keeping up with “the hobby”.  I mean she wouldn’t know which cards we have, what random bank accounts we currently have open, what loyalty programs have balances etc.

If tragedy struck she would have to deal with 60 some odd credit card accounts and 10 or so current bank accounts on top of everything else.  What a PIA!

Our Situation

I think our dynamic is probably similar to many of the readers out there.  By dynamic I mean one person is interested in travel hacking (me) and one is interested in reaping the rewards of the work (her).

Suffice to say she is over talking about credit cards, bank bonuses, and future trips.  She likes taking advantage of all that this hobby has to offer but she doesn’t want to be involved in the day to day stuff.  So I sign her up for what is needed and tell her what card to use etc., and it works.

That is what we have been doing up and until now and we have built quite the portfolio. But, I haven’t done a good job of laying out where everything is for her and what would need to be done should anything happen. Mainly because it is constantly changing and it is a lot of work to keep updated.

Are you Prepared in Case Tragedy Strikes?

Game Plan

I have set my wife up for failure.  Especially when you consider most accounts don’t even mail out statements anymore!  It is time to kick it into gear and get a system in place…so here is my preliminary plan.

Close Needless Accounts

My first plan is to close some excess accounts.  This may cause my score to dip some but I think it is worth it.  You may want to do it a different way.

I plan on closing some of our accounts that haven’t been touched in a long time.  My goal is to get each bank down to 1 no annual fee card. I would keep 1 with each bank to keep average age of accounts up and to maintain a relationship with each bank.

The goal here is to limit the work for her.  There is no reason to have 2 MLB Bank of America cards etc.  She would have to close all of my personal accounts is something happens anyways and this will help reduce the workload.

Doing this should also help with approvals going forward, eliminating my overall credit available and my credit accounts with each bank. I know I could use the help!

Spreadsheets Are My Friend

Next I need to set up a spreadsheet of all active credit cards and bank accounts. I have one that tracks my applications, approvals, and closures but it wouldn’t be easy for most people to decipher.

On this new spreadsheet I plan to divide it up by bank.  I will break it down by person as well (myself and my wife).  For my cards it would be a closure list for her to go through and check off.

For her cards I would then list the annual fee, when the anniversary date is, and if it should be kept open or closed.  I would probably pick 2-3 cards for her to keep open and then highlight what to use them for etc.

Another spreadsheet will list all of our loyalty accounts and updated balances.  Anything in my name will have to be cashed out or transferred to her loyalty account.  An example would be transferring my Membership Rewards to her Delta account or my Hilton points to her Hilton account etc.  I would most likely have her cash out anything that is a cash equivalent, like Ultimate Rewards.  I need to create a detailed list for all of this.

Passwords

It is long overdue for me to sign up for a password service.  An account that keeps all of your logins safe and secure and I believe also updates them for you (more research needed!).  This would mean I could eliminate a lot of the leg work for her since one password would unlock many.

If you didn’t want to go this route you could create another spreadsheet or write them down somewhere and keep it somewhere safe.

Conclusion

Well I think that covers the nuts and bolts of what I need to do going forward.  The only thing that would be left is to sit down with my wife and review it all when it is completed.

I think this is important stuff and it could help make a stressful time a little less stressful, should tragedy strike.  This hobby isn’t easy to manage when you go at it as hard as we do and it could leave a large mess in our wake.  You never know when something could happen, look no further than the Southwest flight last week.

Do you already have a system in place? Is this something you have considered?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

 

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16 COMMENTS

  1. I work in an estate planning law firm and we face this overwhelming issue everyday when settling an estate. In addition to not knowing user names and passwords, many times we don’t know where the decedent does their banking because the statements are on line instead of coming in the mail. Please make up lists and leave them with your attorney or a trusted friend.

    • Thanks for sharing Sharon. I think it is an overlooked thing in this hobby (and in daily life). But when you have as many accounts as we do it compounds the issue.

  2. Just started down this path also. One thing helping is having all my logins and passwords in 1Password. Now I just need to figure out how to replicate/synch this for my wife and others who need to know. Of interest is the ability to partition the info for what I’ll call second tier participants who only need part of the total file.

  3. Great article, and an important reminder of things that we’d all probably rather not think about!

    A few years ago, before my daughters and I left on our first “major” trip (Paris/London/Dublin), it occurred to me that if anything happened to me, my husband probably wouldn’t have the faintest idea of where to look, or even what to look for 🙁 So I made up a list of insurance policies, retirement accounts, bank accounts, credit cards, etc., and added instructions regarding who to contact, phone numbers, account numbers, and any other info he would need, including links to online accounts and passwords.

    When we (okay, I 😀 ) got into the travel-hacking hobby and the credit cards accounts began to add up, I realized I needed a spreadsheet to stay on top of it all. I set it up on a Google spreadsheet with separate “sheets” for credit cards (including all of the info Mark mentioned — annual fees/renewal dates, open/close dates, credit lines, authorized users), credit scores, household bills, and of course, Amex offers 😀

    I didn’t put any account numbers or passwords on the Google spreadsheets, as that just seems a bit TOO risky, so that’s kept in a safe place where he knows to look for it if needed. Now I have one portable file box (easily grabbed in an emergency) that holds all of the necessary info, including an up-to-date printout of account numbers and passwords. When I’m traveling without him, I include our itinerary, contact numbers/e-mail addresses for hotels, and trip insurance info. There’s a similar separate box for all of the pets’ info, also easily grabbed in case we ever need to leave the house in a hurry.

    I’m embarrassed to admit that when it came to making a will, I’ve been a total slacker for six decades (I know, I know …), but I finally remedied that a year ago, along with power-of-attorney papers and medical directives 🙂 It wasn’t easy, as I have four daughters from a previous marriage and he has two, so making sure everything was handled fairly took a bit of juggling. Whew, what a relief it was to get THAT finished!

    Thanks for the reminder to take of the important stuff while we’re doing the fun stuff 🙂

    • Yeah it is a lot to undertake but a big weight off when completed I imagine! Thanks for sharing as always Eileen!

  4. I handle all the bills and home maintenance issues, accounts, and the travel hacking. A couple of years ago, my DH asked what would happen if “you got hit by a bus” – which was kind of funny since I worked out of our home office and didn’t commute, so I hardly ever drove anywhere.
    Similar to Irene, I created lists and have updated them periodically, so they can sometimes be a bit our of date -somewhat easier to do now that I am retired. One list is medical insurance, another is retirement and investment accounts (and we are in the process of consolidating from 5 to 2 firms), a third for banking and credit cards and a 4th for miles and points accounts.
    I basically created Word docs that I only store on a USB drive – not on my computer hard drive, so all account numbers, websites and login info is there for him. I print off 2 copies and store both with the USB in our safe.
    We updated our wills, power of attorney and health care proxies a couple of years ago after my mom passed away.
    It wouldn’t be easy for him, but with my lists, the bank and others could help him out. Not easy or fun – even the updating takes more time than you think, but a bit of weight off my mind.

    Now, if I could just organize the office files, clear out the paper and clutter, the old travel stuff, etc., etc. – that’s the job that I never seem to get around to- LOL.

      • Don’t be too impressed – I first did this about 3 years ago when I was 65. But we have no kids and I only have my brother. DH just has me (lucky guy -I’m his bookkeeper and travel agent 😉 )

  5. The second a death ssn hits the feds database for social security all your credit cards will get turned off as far as I know.

  6. “Digital Wills” are a new huge estate planning area. Check into this with an attorney, Mark.

    You & your spouse probably need Dirable POAs (while you are both alive) to talk to banks on cc & other issues on the other’s behalf in the event of disability, incapacity, etc. And should either of you pass, have wills naming each other as Executor/Executrix so each of you can easily claim the deceased’s miles/points as your own. A lot of spouses miss this very valuable “asset” because they don’t understand their power, or value. And to think you worked so hard for those 7-digit points, Mark! Bottom line: written authority for her to act as you
    is necessary in both life & death as I assure you that with your activity level your account list will not be up to date & she will need legal authority to gain access to your accounts.

    So great (again) you are raising important issues that can be dealt with. #1 get started with good legal counsel, take your time, & you will both rest much easier when you get it all down on paper. Monitoring is also critical as your life changes & goals (& accounts!) evolve.

  7. Thanks for sharing these really personal posts. I relate to these “human” factors to the whole miles/points game. My partner is exactly like your wife, and I’m the points fanatic, all he needs is me to tell him what cards to sign up and what card to spend on – and I do the rest of the work. Maybe signing your wife up using an award wallet account might be good for her to keep track in case of any “tragedy”, likewise for yourself, you can just email her your award wallet log in and password. So when the day comes, at least there is a 1 stop tracking portal for all your accounts and points.

  8. Very timely post. I can relate to all the comments. I am the one who handles all and puts a card or two in my husbands wallet with a little post-it note telling him what to use it for. I fill out every application for my husband. I make the phone calls to cancel cards and just have him get on the phone to give them permission to talk to me.
    I’ve been putting off updating the list of current credit cards, bank accts, etc. I just counted a total of 54 credit cards for the two of us. Our estate planning attorney has an additional program for clients with a secure online site where you enter all documents (wills, trusts, financial accts, insurance documents, long term care docs, credit cards, frequent flyer acct numbers, online accts, passwords, cable tv, electric, phone, and anything else). I just looked and see I haven’t updated some areas since 2013. I have the note in my calendar to update but I just move the date to the next week, month, year.
    This hobby sometimes feels like a full time job but the first class beds and Park Hyatt make it worth it. I’ve never used spreadsheets but I probably should. Does anyone have one they’d like to share?

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