The Covid-19 pandemic brought forth the bare truth, “Life is not separate from death”. Death is for certain. What is uncertain is the financial condition of the dependents post-death? Everything in life revolves around bread and death. So much so, that we decide our finances keeping in mind our family members’ needs and financial goals.
However, not many realize the need to inform their loved ones of their financial decisions. The intent to shield them from their financial decisions, for any reason whatsoever, may not always help, especially, in times of sudden and untimely death.
Many families are unable to trace and track the details of the investments of their deceased members. Many of them find themselves in a financial mess because of their inability to redeem the investments of the deceased. This can be disastrous considering how many families are unable to apply and avail of the claim amount even in the case of the policyholders’ deaths or are blissfully unaware of being nominees to the money lying invested in stocks and mutual fund investments.
A thorough house search helps
Death does not come knocking at the door to warn you before its arrival. This means that you must be prepared for such untoward circumstances in case of the sudden death of the head of your family. Start with basics by rummaging through his or her belongings to look for necessary documents. Go through the diaries for details of investments, if any or savings account details.
Sometimes, simple details of savings can help to learn about the automatic debits each month and the lists of investments made. One may also look at mobile phone chats and apps to learn details of where the money has been possibly allocated. First-hand information on bank accounts will pave the way for further information on investments and applications made to financial institutions for loans, insurance and investments.
Contact financial advisors if any
It is not uncommon for people to mark their presence on various social media handles. Scanning them can help evaluate possible associations made before death. The telephone directory in the mobile phones or diaries of the deceased can also reveal important information about the agents or financial advisors or chartered accountants to whom they can consult and glean all the much-needed information on investments made and legal deeds signed.
Applying through RTI Act helps
Families are often unaware of property owned by loved ones. You can request information about residential and commercial property in the name of the deceased (in the city of residence) by submitting a Right to Information (RTI) for details. Once they get the details of the real-estate investments, they can look for the property papers of the deceased, in the absence of which they must lodge a complaint at the nearest police station.
Post that, you can apply for a certified copy of the real estate document with the real estate settlement number at the nearest registry office. Once you have the property copy and probate papers, you must remove the deceased’s name and include your own name on the property mutation papers.
What if everything fails?
This is a question frequented by most families that have lost all hope of recovering the investments made by the deceased. Suresh Sadagopan, MD & Principal Officer, Ladder7 Wealth Planners said, “The problem is very common. Many times, there is some record of investment, but may not be a complete record. In such a situation, one will have to go through the correspondence including email to find out if there is some information one can glean from there. Also, one needs to find out who were the persons the deceased was dealing with in relation to money to piece in the puzzle.”
For those left to brood and grieve for the dead, sympathy is a little medicine that can soothe the ache in their hearts. However, empathizing with their financial helplessness becomes more important.
Vijai Mantri, Chief Mentor and Co-Promoter, Jeevantika shares, “If someone has died around 10 years ago, the deceased person’s shares must have been transferred to Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF). The shares are liable to be transferred to IEPF from the custody of the Registrar and Transfer Agent (RTA) when the dividend remains unclaimed for seven consecutive years. As of now, there is no common repository of such unclaimed shares offered by RTA or companies. The IEPF does offer search functionality for unclaimed shares. But it is difficult to ascertain specific search results.”
Mantri added, “To know about investments in stocks by the deceased, investors download our app from the play store (Jeevantika). Once downloaded, investors can type their surname in the ‘Search’ option and choose the state where they use to reside. In the private space, only Jeevantika.com offers aggregate data, in searchable format, of more than 15 lakh folios valuing upwards of ₹30,000 crores across the top 200 listed companies. These 15 lakhs folios have been transferred to IEPF due to the dividend remaining unclaimed for 7 consecutive years. The shareholders can check their names, Father’s Name, Address, Folio Number, and the market value of their shares on both the web and mobile by Jeevantika.”
No one can relieve the dead from the grave. Death is for certain, which is why you must associate certainty with financial arrangements while living. Some people do not realize how keeping their family members in oblivion can debar them of the necessary information about money.
The idea must be to keep your family members in the loop about your decisions, tell them where you have invested and for what purpose, the claim amount on term insurance and the remaining debt left to repay in case of any loan amount sought from banks or financial institutions.