Organizing Financial Records

shutterstock_234422482Most people do not care to think about worst-case scenarios, but it is a must when establishing a comprehensive estate plan.  Such as the unexpected incapacitation or death of you or your spouse.  Does your spouse or family know the steps to take to put your estate plan into action?  They need to know what assets, documents, and files even exist.  They need to know where important papers and information are located.  They need to know how to access these items.  They should also know who to contact for professional help.  It is important to have your financial records in good order to avoid tension and turmoil for your loved ones.

  • Your estate planning portfolio should be the starting point for locating and accessing all pertinent items.
  • Key family members and your trustee should be aware of the location of your estate planning portfolio.
  • It can be helpful to review your estate plan with your family to ensure that the necessary people can find and understand the information that you have in place.
  • Meet with these key people once a year and make updates as necessary.
  • Make sure that the estate planning portfolio is protected from fire and theft.

While the details will vary for each person and situation, it is good to be aware of the basic documents, assets, and lists that should be immediately available to your family members and trustee during an emergency. These might include:

  • a list of your current medications
  • a list of your various advisors, such as financial planners, accountants, attorneys, etc.
  • a list of all legal documents
  • a list of assets and any pertinent details regarding those assets
  • the location of any safe deposit boxes, the key, and a list of its contents
  • financial statements from banks and investment accounts
  • all insurance policies
  • a complete list of unpaid financial obligations
  • a complete list of those who owe you money
  • old tax returns
  • documents listing death or disability benefits
  • a list of any important information that may be on a computer file or disk
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