You can lose your gloves. You can lose your keys. But you would never lose track of your investments, would you?
Actually, you might be surprised at just how many people do forget about investments or leave them behind when they move.
Every state maintains unclaimed-property offices to deal with millions of dollars worth of stocks, bonds, bank accounts, uncashed checks, pensions, 401(k)s and IRAs.
To avoid losing track of your financial assets, follow these suggestions:
- Keep records of all bank accounts and investments. It would probably take just a few minutes for you to write up a list of all your bank accounts and investments. And you don't have to go into great detail, either -- just include the type of account and where it's currently held. Make sure you share this list with a family member.
- Inform banks and brokers when you move or change names. Notify your bank, broker, 401(k) administrator, insurance company and any other financial-services agency you work with if you move or change your name due to marriage or divorce.
- Cash checks promptly. Whenever you receive distributions from a retirement plan or stock dividends, cash the checks promptly. The longer you leave these checks lying around, the greater the likelihood that you'll forget about them. If you don't need the dividends, you may want to automatically reinvest them, as this builds the number of shares you own. But, if you're going to accept the checks, take care of them right away.
- Don't give up. Even if you do lose track of investments or bank accounts, it doesn't mean they are gone forever. Try to "retrace your steps" to where you think you might have held your accounts. Most financial-service providers will do what they can to help you.
As an alternative, you might want to visit the Web site of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (www.unclaimed.org).
- Consolidate your accounts. Apart from the suggestions listed above, there's one more step you can take that can potentially help you keep close tabs on your financial assets.
A full-service company can offer you access to investments, banking services, mortgages, credit cards -- virtually any financial vehicle you might need.