If you died today, how would this impact your family’s future?
Would they know where to locate your will, your important papers, your life insurance company, and other important items?
If your answer is inconclusive, this article is for you.
Before emergencies occur, remember preparations and conversations are two of the key items to provide clear instructions of your wishes.
Here are some items to consider having in a secure place:
- Emergency numbers and/or email for spouse and children
- Emergency numbers and/or email for other family members who would need notification.
- Your Social Security Number (or other form of identification)
- Advisors (Attorney, Banker, Financial planner, Insurance agent, Clergy, Doctor, etc) Name and Contact information
- Valuable papers: Deed(s) to real estate, property improvement records, mortgage papers/title, homeowner/auto/business insurance papers, will (including instructions), cemetery plot and number, funeral home contact name and disposition directions, prepaid funeral expenses, power of attorney, heath care power of attorney/living will, birth certificates, marriage/divorce certificate, passports, diplomas, social security cards, employment records, armed forces records, family health records, checkbooks, savings accounts (including bank contact information), insurance (life, health, accident), CDs/stock certificates, savings bonds, safety deposit box/key, tax records, household inventory, motor vehicle title(s). Make sure to include the exact location of these items, example, in desk drawer in the bedroom.
- Financial Services: Bank(s) holding your checking/savings accounts, Companies holding your money market certificates, trust accounts, safety deposit boxes, etc. Having the account numbers, banking contact information and whose name the accounts are in, are extremely helpful to family members.
- Real Estate/Business Interests: Property location, whether property is rented, length of time you have owned property, and the original purchase price. Do you jointly own property with others? This would be helpful information for the family.
- Securities (Stocks/bonds/other securities), Mutual Funds, and miscellaneous personal property (patents, royalties, rare books, collections, antiques, art, furs, jewelry, ATVs, boats, motorcycles, RVs, and cars). Be specific, including identification number, date purchased and any other information you deem relevant.
- Insurance policies: Include the insurance carrier (example, Nationwide Insurance), agent’s name (example, Consultative Insurance Group) and contact information (1-800-886-0305, firstname.lastname@example.org), and policy number for each insurance policy (Home, cars, motorcycle, recreational vehicles, personal liability, scheduled collectibles, life insurance, annuities, retirement, and health insurance. Insurance companies are probably one of the first contacted by the families, as they want to know if there is any life insurance coverage available. It is a very difficult conversation when there is none.
- Employment Record: Be sure to include your employer’s name and contact information. Include a supervisor or manager’s contact information as well.
- Retirement Accounts: With many opportunities available through group policies at work, there may be additional retirement and life information available. Be sure to include that information as well. Include account type, number, financial institution, phone number and beneficiary name (Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401K/403B, pension, other retirement investments, and other employer sponsored plans). Check with your human resource department at your place of employment to learn if there others.
- Education Accounts: Education IRA, and 529, provide the account number, financial institution, phone number and beneficiary names(s)
- Outstanding Debt: List outstanding loans, home equity lines, credit card debt, student loans, etc. Include the creditor/company name, address, account number and telephone number/email address.
Save this information in a secure location, such as a safety deposit box or with your attorney. The thought process is to make it easier for family members to locate and manage your personal business. Take a few moments and prepare this information for them, and if you have not, schedule (and keep your appointment) a time to talk with responsible members of your family and share with them what you want/do not want to happen if you were unable to keep up your current responsibilities.
Templates can be found online, book stores, and at most insurance agencies which offer life, accident and health insurance coverage.
Remember, it is much easier to have this conversation now while you are here, than for your family to try and figure it out when you are not.
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