For various reasons, you may not want your kids to know your financial affairs and other business while you’re still in control, but the day will come when they’ll need to know.
That day may come because you start showing signs of dementia and need their help, or it may be at your death.
Here’s a list of documents and other information that you should pull together in a file or a location known by your children to be the spot to check in the event of your incapacity or death:
- Health Care Directive, which provides instructions for your care when you can’t speak for yourself.
- Health insurance card.
- List of current medications.
- Funeral and burial instructions.
- Location of the original copy of your Will and any Trust documents.
- Your list of family keepsakes that you particularly desire to keep in the family.
- A signed, dated list of personal property items that you wish to gift, and the specific individual who is to receive each gift.
- Instructions for the care of your pet.
- Original copies of your life insurance policies.
- Titles to motor and recreational vehicles.
- Title records of any real estate owned.
- Papers regarding debts that you owe, such as a mortgage or home equity loan.
- Records of money loaned by you to others. (Ideally these should be represented by a promissory note.)
- Location of any safe deposit boxes.
- Listing of all bank accounts.
- List of Certificates of Deposit, annuities, individual stock certificates.
- Listing of all pension and other retirement accounts.
- Listing of all brokerage accounts.
- Any military records.
- Name and contact details of your attorney.
- Name and contact details of your financial advisor.
- Name and contact details of your insurance agent.
- Name and contact details of your accountant.
- Recent federal and state income tax returns – preferably for 3 years.
- Durable Power of Attorney, which gives the person that you name access to your financial accounts. It terminates at your death.
- Location of your Social Security number (but protect this number from pre-mature disclosure or disclosure to identity thieves to the extent possible and practical).
- Copy of your marriage license.
- Copy of your birth certificate.
- Copy of any divorce and/or child support agreements.
- Documents related to the formation of any business that you may own, and any Buy-Sell Agreements between the partners.
- List of computer user names and passwords.
An estate planning attorney can help you draft a Will, Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney and Trust, and can help you determine the appropriate titling of your assets and beneficiary designations.
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