No one likes to think about dying. Most people avoid the issue, thinking it’s too early in their life to worry about. Have you prepared a living will, a last will and testament, bought life insurance, or made funeral arrangements?
My mother passed away last year at the age of 91. Luckily for her six children, she had everything planned and organized. But it made me realize that if I were to die today or if both my husband and I were to die, our living relatives wouldn’t have a clue as to what policies we have, what bank holds our safe deposit box, or where we store our valuables.
One very important piece of advice—know where your original life insurance policies are kept and tell your beneficiaries. My mother had three life insurance policies, and all three companies required the original policies.
Since that time, I’ve created an asset list and binder. It’s never too early to start your own. Trust me when I say you will take a huge burden off your grieving relatives if you have everything in place when you die.
Create four spreadsheets in Excel (or hand write in a notebook, whichever is easier for you)—assets, credit cards, accounts, and funeral arrangements. In the first spreadsheet, list your assets. Label the six columns: Person (if you have a significant other), Description, Account Numbers/Amounts, Balances, As of Date, Contact/Comments. I have listed bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, home insurance, vehicles, properties, safe deposit box, jewelry, and valuables.
Example: Nancy – XYZ Life Insurance – Policy #123 – $1,000 – 01/09/18 – Agent John Smith
In the second spreadsheet, list all your credit cards—name, account number, and contact information. This sheet will also come in handy if you ever move.
For the third spreadsheet, list all your miscellaneous accounts such as home security, cable, lawn service, and any reoccurring billings. When my mom died, none of the children thought about the lawn service until a bill was sent. The new homeowner received a free service!
In the fourth spreadsheet, list your funeral arrangements. Do you have burial plots? Do you want to be cremated? What funeral home do you like the best? What are your favorite flowers? Do you have specific hymns you want in your service? Who do you want as pall bearers? Is there a certain outfit you’d like to be buried in? Open or closed casket? What type of casket—metal or wood? All these questions may seem overwhelming, but it is something to think about.
I had a friend lose her husband and since he took care of all the bills, she was clueless as to her finances and upkeep on the house. Having an asset binder would have saved her time and energy.
Place a printed copy of this information in the binder, which should be kept in a safe and secure location. Just remember to tell your beneficiaries where the binder is located, otherwise this process is wasted. For security, password protect your computer file. One last thing—don’t forget to update this information.
Ready to start your own asset binder?