My name is Mark Goodfield. Welcome to The Blunt Bean Counter ™, a blog that shares my thoughts on income taxes, finance and the psychology of money. I am a Chartered Professional Accountant. This blog is meant for everyone, but in particular for high net worth individuals and owners of private corporations. My posts are blunt, opinionated and even have a twist of humour/sarcasm. You've been warned. Please note the blog posts are time sensitive and subject to changes in legislation or law.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Where Are The Assets

If you died tomorrow, would your family and advisors know where your assets are and what assets you owned?

I would suggest the answer in 50% or more cases would be a resounding no.

If you have answered no, take this one step further; consider the havoc you will cause your family and executors. They will be distressed having to deal with your passing, now you are compounding their stress by forcing them to deal with an estate when they have no clue what assets you own, what debts you have outstanding or where the assets are held. Most likely they will not have a duplicate safety deposit key or even know where your safety deposit box(es) is/are.

Whether you are just negligent or lazy, your actions are selfish and you should immediately take steps to rectify the situation.

All this can be averted very simply. Take a weekend and complete a personal information checklist and then put a reminder in your blackberry, iPhone or Outlook calendar to review this checklist each year to ensure there are no changes.

Once completed, make at least three copies of your checklist and provide a copy to your spouse and one to either your accountant, lawyer or trusted third party. Then put the final copy in your safety deposit box and ensure either your spouse of another person is aware of the location of the safety deposit box and the key.

Here is a link to a basic personal information checklist from my firms (Cunningham LLP) website; this checklist should kick start your organizing and asset recording efforts.

Fore Means Golfer Beware

Most golfers have either been hit or nearly hit by an errant golf shot. One gets especially perturbed when the person who almost hit you does not yell “fore”! In fact one of my friends was hit in the ankle this year by another friend who did not yell fore and I thought his ankle was broken for sure.

I have often wondered what happens if you hit someone on a golf course and whether or not you are liable if you break a window on a house alongside a golf course.

While there seems to be various answers to the latter question, the former question was recently answered in a New York courtroom; the answer being that if you are hit without warning by a 'shanked' shot while searching for your ball, you are assuming  a commonly appreciated risk of golf and the ‘shanker’ is not liable.
The case involved Dr. Anoop Kapoor and Dr. Azad Anand. Dr. Anand was hit in the head while looking for his ball on a fairway blinding him in one eye. The seven judges on the State Court of Appeals, siding with lower courts, said Kapoor's failure to yell in advance of his errant shot from the rough did not amount to intentional or reckless conduct.

The court cited a judge's finding that although Anand was not in the foreseeable zone of danger, as a golfer, he consented to the inherent risks of the sport.

As a golfer I am not sure I agree with this judgement. I am probably okay with the line of reasoning if a player yells “fore,” however, when a player does not yell “fore” I would personally hold them liable.

Either way, don't forget to buy your golf helmet with visor this winter in preparation for next years season.

The blogs posted on The Blunt Bean Counter provide information of a general nature. These posts should not be considered specific advice; as each reader's personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact a professional advisor prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained in one of the blogs.


  1. Good post Mark! When someone dies there are always lots of questions that need answers and the only person with all the answers is no longer here to provide them. That's why I create My Estate Organizer ... a tool to help deal with this communication gap between families. Check it out when you have a chance Mark!
    Thanks for bringing attention to this important issue.

  2. Hi Jim

    Checked it out, excellent tool that addresses the issues in my blog. Interestingly, in addition you talk about conflict and communication, two blogs I have just recently posted (One Big Happy Familly and the Intergenerational Communication Gap)

  3. It is also important to note to make sure there is more than one key to the box! I have seen it happen on numerous occasions that people have a box/safe and no key, because no one knew where the relative kept it.

    1. Thomas, good point. I actually asked my mom recently to give me an extra key because I realized I had no clue where her key was, of course she still has not:(