If you were to become incapacitated or die tomorrow, would your spouse, agent (the person you granted power of attorney), or executor be able to easily take over your financial affairs? Would they know about all of your financial assets and debts-or would they spend considerable time hunting them down, never quite certain that they’d found everything?
To help ensure a smooth transition, consider preparing a master list of all the information someone may need to manage your financial affairs or distribute your estate. Here are some of the things you many want to include on your list.
- The names and contact information of your financial professionals, such as your accountant, investment professional, estate planning attorney, and insurance agent.
- Your employer’s name and contact information.
- Information about any business interests you may have, such as the business’s name and contact information and the percentage you own.
- A list of your important papers, including their location. For example, where are your estate planning documents stored? And your vehicle titles, real estate deeds, marriage license, divorce decree, military discharge papers, and tax returns?
- A list of your financial accounts: bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, health savings accounts-any account where you have assets stored should be listed.
- If you have annuities or pensions, note them down and include the contact information for the companies that handle them.
- Do you have a safe deposit box? Jot down its locations, the box number, and the location of the key.
- List the insurance policies you have. Think life, medical, disability, long-term care, homeowners, and auto.
- Does anyone owe you money? If so, who and where are the related documents located?
- Do you owe anyone money? If you have a mortgage or other loan, note down the pertinent information about it.
- Make a list of your credit card accounts.
- List your digital assets, such as email and cloud storage accounts, along with your user names and passwords.
Once your list is complete, there are three things left to do: 1) keep the list safe, 2) keep it updated, and 3) let a trusted person know where to find it.
If you create your master list on paper, keep it locked up and let someone you trust know where the key is. If you create a digital document, protect it with a password and let someone know the name of the file, its location, and its password or where they can locate the password when they need it. Taking these steps now can make a big difference to your family, agent, and executor later on.
Article published in September/October 2021 edition of Eye on Money. If you would like to be added to our mail list please email [email protected].