Imagine this: You have just been told your friend or family member just passed away and they wanted you to handle their affairs. Where do you start? Do you know where they live? Do you know how to get in their house? Do you know where they bank? Where they keep their important documents?
Pretty scary isn’t it? What can you do to help? My suggestion is you spend a day or two gathering documents and writing down information. Place it into a binder or folder. Then keep it in a safe place and tell your family or those who will likely be handling your estate how to find it.
So what should go in this folder or binder? Here are a few ideas.
- A copy of all of your estate planning documents, with instructions on where the originals are located and how to reach them.
- A copy of your recent tax returns.
- The name of your attorney, CPA, accountant, tax preparer, insurance agent, financial advisor, primary doctor, religious leader (pastor, priest, rabbi, etc.), close family members and friends.
- Premarital agreements, divorce orders, and other judicial or legal papers.
- Documents evidencing any funeral arrangements such as obituary, burial or cremation contracts, organ donor information and person designated (if anyone) to handle your remains.
- List of digital assets such as usernames and passwords for websites, social media, financial and other online institutions.
- Copies of deeds, leases and other current contracts.
- Financial (banks and investments) and insurance (including annuities) account information including company name, account numbers, types of accounts and address and phone contact information.
- Lockbox/safety deposit box location and number. Include information on where key can be found.
- List of other significant assets and personal property.
- Any instructions you think might be helpful.
This list will get you started. If you think of other directions or papers that would be helpful for your executor, family or friends, include it, also.