A hand taking a receipt of an Automated Teller Machine

With ATM Receipts and Legal Guardians, Leave Nothing to Chance

Face it, life is uncertain. We cannot know the future, but that doesn’t mean we should just throw caution to the wind and let come what may. In some areas of life, we can take steps to reduce certain risks by exercising good common sense.

A hand taking a receipt of an Automated Teller Machine


ATM receipts … no big deal?

Dear Mary: This has been bugging me: At my bank’s ATM, there is a big trashcan where everyone throws away their receipt/transaction slips. It seems like a bad idea to toss them away since they show the balance and transaction info. But being cautious means I end up with an overstuffed, cluttered wallet. Do I need to save them, and what’s the best way to get rid of them? Rob

Dear Rob:

Always take your receipts with you; never leave them at the ATM or use the trash can there. When you receive your bank statement, you’ll need them to verify that all your deposits and withdrawals were posted correctly to your account. Keep your receipts in chronological order in the pocket of your checkbook, wallet, or handbag, or any place that is convenient. Just make sure you always put that receipt in the same place so that it becomes a useful habit. Banks do make mistakes, and those little slips may be your only proof.

That said, once everything checks out, get rid of them. As with any financial document, the safest way to get rid of ATM receipts is with a paper shredder. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend you get a good home shredder. Until then, it is okay to simply tear them up before tossing. Since they don’t list your account number or other highly sensitive information, the slips don’t represent a critical concern.

Bye bye print

Dear Mary: Thank goodness that I get your EC in my inbox everyday, and follow you on Facebook. Our newspaper just went under, where we have read your column, daily for many years! It’s a sad day in my little town. Barbara

Dear Barbara:

Oh, I am so sorry to hear this! Creators, the company that distributes Everyday Cheapskate to print newspapers, stays in close contact with me, but I am not aware of all of the details for each outlet.

It’s no secret that newspapers are going out at a rapid rate—because advertisers are leaving them. These are very difficult days—in so many ways. To see print newspapers that have been in business for decades to now be struggling to stay alive is heartbreaking.

But thank goodness you are here with me online. I hope that many others, like you, who read EC in their print papers will do likewise.

Stick close, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon! We’ll make it through these difficult days as we have done so many times. Thanks for letting me know. It was great to hear from you!

Where there’s a Will there is peace of mind

Dear Mary: My husband and I just had our first child, and now that we have a new little life depending on us, we want to make sure she is always taken care of.

Neither one of us has a will, but I think it’s important to set one up just in case. Problem is, we haven’t ever thought about a will, much less have any idea of what we need to include. Do you have any pointers? Monique

Dear Monique:

Congratulations! You are right on the money. You do need to create your Wills stating how you want your assets distributed and name who will become legal guardians of your child, (plus an alternate in case your first choice isn’t available) if you should die together.

If a court ever needs to step in and appoint a guardian, the judge will appoint the person you nominated in your will—unless it is not in the best interests of your child(ren) for some reason.

When thinking about who to name as guardian choose someone who knows you and your children well. If you don’t name a guardian in your will, anyone who is interested can ask for the position. The judge then must decide, without the benefit of your opinion, who will do the best job of raising your kids.

You can write your own Wills and then have them witnessed and signed by three persons not named beneficiaries in the Wills. However, I suggest that’s not the smartest way to proceed. This is too important to be left to chance. Spend a few dollars to make sure you do everything correctly and in accordance with the laws of your state.

Consider these options:

Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2024

I highly recommend Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2024 from Nolo Press, a well-regarded and reputable online legal organization helping ordinary folks like you and me handle our basic legal needs.

Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2024 includes dozens of forms including the five documents every adult must have and also practical forms you can use every day to help run your home and keep your family safe, including authorizations and agreements, promissory notes, limited powers of attorney, and minor guardianship and elder care forms, and lots more.

Quicken’s Living Trust, is included with the 2024 WillMaker.

Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2024 is compatible with the laws in every U.S. state (except for Louisiana*, U.S. Territories; not compatible with Canada). And boy is it easy to use—just fill in the blanks. And you can revise it in the future as necessary, without another big legal bill.


Because the whole world is now celebrating Black Friday way before the actual day, Quicken’s in on it too. You’ll find 30% at the site, however, ta-da! today, EC Readers can get 50% Off Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2024 with promo code: CM50.

If you already have already purchased in the past, you can upgrade to the Plus level and get 50% off that, too with the promo code.

*Due to Louisiana’s strict requirements, relying on a generic “Last Will and Testament” form is not wise. Failure to get the form exactly right will result in an invalid document or perhaps worse, lead to estate litigation due to Louisiana’s unique civil law system.

Nolo does offer this simple Willmaker for Louisiana residents that has been prepared and vetted by a team of attorneys. If you live in Louisiana and wish to also create your Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive, see a Louisiana lawyer for help.


For $89 each, you can use Legal Zoom, an online site created and maintained by attorneys, to create your wills, specific to your state, including instructions for the custody of minor children. Using the online services at LegalZoom, you can have your individual Wills including guardianship done and in your possession, before you go to bed tonight. This is the simplest option.

Or you can schedule a call with LegalZoom network attorneys for individual and personal advice, starting at $89 each.

Hire an attorney

This will cost a minimum of several hundred dollars, but you’ll end up with documents (each of you need your own Will) specific to you and your children.


Updated, Republished 11-19-23



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  4. Ann Howard says:

    With regard to your ATM article. Instead of a paper receipt, my bank gives me the option to send it to my email address. When I get home, I write the amount in my check register. If I forget, I’ll see it as a reminder in my daily emails.

  5. Suzanne says:

    If you’re making your will and your kids are still young, you need to give careful consideration to both their guardianship and to the trustee who will manage the estate you leave behind. It’s common sense, I know. But people can do the strangest and stupidest things. I know a couple who appointed a trusted family member, one who already had a close and loving relationship with their children, to be their guardian. But the person they appointed to be the trustee of their estate was another family member who was known to be mentally and emotionally unstable. Fortunately, the couple are still with us and their kids are grown. But had it been necessary to carry out the provisions of their wills they would have left a disaster behind.

    • Suzanne says:

      You’re so right about the guardian/trustee issue. My sister and her husband did this. They named one family member who loved the kids and spent lots of time with them to be their guardian. But they named another family member who not only had mental and emotional problems, but a grudge against my sister, to be their trustee. It was difficult to understand their reasoning. When I heard this I pointed out that it was likely to result in their kids not getting what they needed, and their guardian having to shoulder the financial responsibility for raising them. They were willing to do that, but it would mean the kids would likely not have all of the opportunities their parents wanted them to have. I never did find out if they changed this arrangement. Luckily, the kids are grown so it’s not an issue anymore. But I think that they took a big risk that would have hurt their kids.

  6. KAREN says:

    Hi Mary. I find your column invaluable and have read it for years. I have a question regarding the Dodd-Frank Act. Briefly, it authorizes banks/financial institutions to legally seize and/or freeze customer funds in the bank (checking, savings, money market, CDs, safe deposit boxes) to keep itself solvent should the bank collapse. I don’t know the specifics, but I wonder if it’s safe to keep our money in banks in view of the possibility of a bank simply taking the money and issuing a customer an IOU, or share(s) in the bank. I’d appreciate your take on this issue. Thanks.

  7. Pat C says:

    Please, please, please, parents have wills and appoint guardians for your children. Many years ago, a friend said to me very nonchalantly, that if anything happened to her and her husband, I should hand their children over to their grandparents, I’ve forgotten which side. Oh and neither she nor her husband had a will. She was very taken aback when I pointed out that both she and her husband were immigrants and both sets of grandparents lived in a foreign country and I would have no choice in that situation but to hand over the children to CPS. She really could not grasp the legal and immigration implications of not having a will and children who were citizens of the country they lived in but not of the country their grandparents lived in. Oh and please have sufficient insurance that you can appoint a less well off family member who shares your values rather than having to chose whoever can afford to accept the extra cost. And if possible, your kids can stay together. Imagine losing your parents and then being separated from your brothers and sisters. Maybe being sent hundreds of miles away from them and your friends. It happened to friends of mine in high school and it was awful.

  8. Deb R says:

    I agree that drawing up that will asap is important. If something had happened to both of us when our children were younger, there surely would have been mess to deal with. One set of grandparents detested children but were very wealthy, the other set loved children but were low income. Both would have fought for the children. We chose our siblings (my husband’s brother was #1, my sister was #2) to take on our children if there ever was a need. Our own children, now that they are grown, have made similar choices, which is kind of nice because I know we aren’t potentially responsible for raising our grandkids at a time when we are already dealing with our own parents’ aging issues.


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