Do you want to save your heirs and beneficiaries of much frustration, stress and unnecessary financial loss?
You’ve got a general plan in place including a will, your prepaid funeral plan, insurances and investments.
You’ve tried to talk to the kids about it and more than likely diluted the seriousness of it by using humor. But if you’re like most – the “Oh, by the way, here’s what to do when I die” conversation gets awkward and usually fizzles out.
Now, pause for a moment and consider this scenario.
You’re driving home just as you have throughout your lifetime. Although your focus is on the road and the sea of traffic that surrounds you – you catch glimpses of the various sites off to your left and right. You’re a responsible driver. In a split second an oncoming vehicle swerves into your lane; life as you and your family knew it is changed forever.
- Do they know what to do?
- Do they know who to call?
- Do they know what your final disposition will be – earth burial or cremation?
- Do they know what investments, accounts or debts you have in your name?
- Had you written a letter of life’s memories and words of encouragement you wanted them to have? Did you take the time to write it? If so, where is it located?
Where is all the important information they now need; do they know where to find it?
A simple way to get started with organizing your estate information is to setup a file system in a safe location so that one day when your executors need to access the information – they can simply locate everything and proceed with ease.
Here’s a simple list of the most important documents you’ll ever need to have in place and readily available for your survivors and executors. In addition to having things on file and easily accessible; keep your documents organized, current and up to date.
Setup 5 file folders:
- Emergency Information
- Banking & Financial
- Assets & Ownership Items
- Insurance & Pensions
- Important Documents
1. Emergency Information
a. Original copy of your Legal Will, Power of Attorney and Personal Directive
b. Contact information of Executors
c. Prearranged funeral protection plan
d. Letter of instruction and direction for important matters
2. Banking & Financial
a. List of the banks where you hold accounts
b. Identify accounts that you hold with your bank(s)
c. List what bank your safety deposit box is at
d. Location of safety deposit box key
3. Assets & Ownership
a. Residence, real estate
b. Cemetery property deed
c. Mortgages and loan information
d. Debts owed and debts paid on assets and documents to prove
e. Tax returns and the most recent Notice of Assessment
f. Stocks and bonds; investments
g. Corporate certificates and documents
h. Business partnership agreements; corporate tax return information
4. Insurance & Pensions
a. Life insurance policies
b. Employment pensions
c. Other pensions
d. Annuities, other income accounts
5. Important Documents
a. Marriage certificate
b. Divorce certificate
c. Family tree information
By having this information organized and securely stored you will save your executors and beneficiaries from undue stress, time, frustration and money.
How long will it take you to complete your Life File?
Well, locate all the documents that apply to your circumstance; once you have everything that you need, your time making the files and popping each document into the corresponding file folder should take no more than a few hours – including a coffee break.
It’s quicker for you to do it
If you don’t start a Life File, your survivors and executors will likely spend endless hours looking for all the required documents, contacts and financial statements etc. By investing a few hours now, you will more than likely prevent your survivors from growing tired and frustrated and eventually hiring a professional to do the job. That’s right; a few hours today will save your survivors thousands in the future.
Keep it safe
Now that you know the 5 most important folders to have in your Life File, you must keep the file safe. Your two goals are to keep the information close at hand, in case your survivors need to access it, and keep the information safe from theft, fire, or other emergencies. Home storage of your Life File should be secure, private and free from easy access.
Most importantly – tell your executor where everything is for when the day comes that they need it. Tell them again where the files are located, and after a few months – tell them one more time.