Had I known the challenges that awaited us in banking with a company who has chosen to be left behind in the dark ages. I know for many especially the elderly it is comforting banking with smaller banks that have chosen NOT to crossover to the more technologically advanced systems we have today. There is a blatant distrust of the security of all these fancy high tech options that are now available at our fingertips, and the ability to have that hospitality of the good ole days and that constant contact with that family feel of banking in person, well it is nostalgic, and definitely provides a more personal touch and can make for a more high security atmosphere, at least one would think. However, with most things in life for every pro there are considerable cons and if you are prone to sickness which tends to be par for the course with the loveliness of aging this antiquated way of handling business can become a serious crutch.
The first thing I would like to point out is if you are aging, and especially if your children or the one who you would entrust to make decisions concerning your welfare in the event of an unexpected illness should occur I would recommend you get a joint account. This should be done no matter who you bank with. One sure way for things to go aerie with your credit, your possessions, and potential trouble with the IRS is to be in a situation where no one can access your cash. However, I will say that if the unexpected sickness occurs and your recovery takes longer then a month’s billing cycle then you can put your family in a very compromising position and these out of date banks can add strain to an already strenuous situation for those responsible for handling business in your absence. Bottomline, no matter how sweet and courteous your local banker can be, make no mistake they are going to abide by the established bank guidelines and regulations set up by their employers and unfortunately that could mean that if family doesn’t have the discretionary income to cover your short fall that you are going to be in serious trouble with a lot of people and may even find yourself if the illness prolongs beyond expected in a situation where you could be homeless. Having said that there are several things that my experience in this situation has caused me to consider and questions you would be wise to ask your banker if they provide.
- What does a joint bank account give my joint account holder access too?
- If I do not have an ATM card or debit card, and I become too ill to come into the bank myself can my joint account holder apply for an ATM card on my account to access money for me?
- What type of legal documentation would be acceptable for conducting business concerning my account and what type of changes would this documentation provide for them?
Most of us would like to think that we will always have our wits about us, but the reality is this is not a guarantee. Read the statistics yourself to see what can happen in your future. Look at your own genetic history and uncover the incidences of diseases that affect mental health in your family. The more extensive that is the more prone or susceptible you are to suffering from similar diseases of the same kind. Unfortunately, we don’t take time to think about these things and when tragedy strikes it is too late to retro-activate anything and believe me the strain of a financial burden on your loved ones who already have to cope with the emotional and mental stress of your health situation makes a bad situation desperate.
Other important options that your bank need to offer is online access. Of course this would be archaic if such a bank existed and didn’t offer it, but beyond that there are a few things that any potential bank should give you access too..
- Bill pay options – This option should allow for you to pay people directly as well as set up accounts for monthly service payments. Make sure autopay is also available, again, a loved one shouldn’t have to be caught between caring for their loved one and remembering to pay your bills on time. Auto access alleviates that for them.
- Mobile access – We live in a society where we are constantly on the move. Having access on a mobile phone means that I am not bound by buildings, nor have to be home to handle affairs quickly and promptly for you. Making things easier on the caregiver means that they have more time to focus on what is most pressing, your care. Mobile access also means that any checks that must come to your caregiver who may not live where you do can make it possible for them to deposit cash in your account remotely, and quickly. Mobile deposits for many banks show up the same day you deposit it.
Finally, I realize living in a global society that identity theft and hacking is a real serious threat to our financial security and our piece of mind. However, I would encourage you not to fear using these avenues, but instead educate yourself in learning how to safely use these tools. Remember, there is no bank that does not use the internet as a tool to access your account information. If they can find a safe way of protecting your identity while accessing your information online, certainly so can you. These are just a few tips from a series of information I will be providing for those who are interested in having the conversation we need to have on preparing for our golden years. This article is part of a section that will be in a book, and perhaps at some point a documentary called, “If I should live before I wake.”