Planning for the future also means ensuring that, in the event that anything happens to you or your loved ones, access to bank accounts and other assets are available. Having two signatures on your money accounts can save you a great deal of time and stress in the event you or your spouse becomes ill or dies. Here are two scenarios that solidify how important it is to have more than one signature on any bank account in general and a savings account in particular.

Let's assume that your spouse has a savings account in his or her name only. They make all of the deposits and withdrawals to the account. One day, they become ill and are unable to access the account. You won't be able to make any withdrawals from that account for the simple reason that it's solely under the spouse's name.

Let's again assume that you're caring for your aging parents. If they die, all of the assets become part of their estate. Thus, you will not be able to access any bank accounts to pay for their funeral expenses. This is especially true if there is no valid will. Here are some immediate steps that you can take to combat this dilemma:

These safety measures will ensure that your parents' assets are protected in case they become ill or die. They will allow you to conduct the transactions necessary should it fall upon you to manage any unforeseen situations that may arise. Without such measures in place, you'll find it extremely difficult (if not impossible without a court order) to handle the practical matters you're confronted with.

There's one other point should be made here. Oftentimes, children of aging parents cannot afford to take them in and take care of them, and may therefore place them into nursing homes. If your parents have funds deposited in bank accounts, the nursing home will take that money as payment for providing shelter and healthcare services. In fact, experts suggest that once parents are in a nursing home, there is basically no way to protect their existing assets. Thus, all of their income would be used to pay for the nursing home facility before Medicaid takes over the expenses.

It all begins with taking steps to protect right now the savings-, checking- and other accounts that are in your name or your parents' names. It's not an unusual sentiment to want to put off financial concerns because the subject is too difficult or saddening to discuss. Nevertheless, it's wise to tackle the subject now. Secure your money accounts by discussing them with your children, your attorney or accountant so that you (or your loved ones) won't have to face the alternative at a time when you might be most vulnerable.

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