Preparing Your Finances: What to do now for your loved ones later

It is tempting to avoid the subject of death. However, when it comes to your finances, planning for the inevitable will be immensely helpful to your loved ones. You can make a very difficult time easier by preparing and organizing vital paperwork and information.

One of the most important documents you can have is a will. If you already have one but have not reviewed it recently, you may need to update such details as the executor and beneficiaries. And if you haven’t yet drawn up a will, consider doing so now. Without one, the state will decide who gets your real assets. If you have no relatives (or they cannot be located), your state’s treasury will inherit everything. One of the most compelling reasons to have a will is that it is your opportunity to dictate custody for your children – if you don’t the court will.

Though there may be much to consider and prepare, it shouldn’t be overwhelming if you use a systematic approach. Use the following checklists to locate and organize your personal finance paperwork. Once you know where all these documents and contacts are, you can easily transfer them to a designated individual.

Make sure the person who will be in control of your home and money has access to the following information. He or she will need it to maintain fiduciary management of the household.

  • If you are a renter: the name of the landlord or property manager
  • If you are a homeowner: the deed, contract, first and second mortgage lender, equity loan, homeowner’s insurance company, mortgage insurance company
  • Attorney
  • Insurance agent
  • Home security company
  • Computer log-in instructions and password
  • Internet carrier
  • Safe deposit box, location of key, names of authorized signers, inventory
  • Checking, savings, credit union account information
  • Credit cards, ATM card, debit cards
  • Formal and informal loan documents
  • 401(k) plans, IRA accounts and other retirement account information
  • Investments: stock, bonds, CDs, commodities, mutual funds, savings bonds, treasury notes, money market funds, annuities
  • Employee benefits: life insurance, profit sharing plan, pension fund, union plan
  • Business ownership information: name of business, address, phone number, name of partners
  • Insurance policies: health, disability, car, liability, rental
  • Accountant
  • Income tax records
  • Financial manager
  • Stockbroker
  • Tax preparer

Resist the urge to procrastinate. Completing this task will not only help those you love feel more prepared for the eventual, you too will be glad you did the right thing.