What’s on your bucket list? Maybe you want to travel to Paris, hit a hole-in-one, or simply spend more time with family.
Each of us has a unique list of things we want to accomplish in life, but one activity that should be on everyone’s to-do list is getting affairs in order. This includes gathering and organizing personal information, financial records, and legal documents.
After a death occurs, loved ones are often tasked with many responsibilities. By compiling, sorting, and organizing these important papers, you can relieve your loved ones of this work.
Continue reading to learn the most important personal information you need to gather and how to organize it.
A will is arguably the most important document to prepare. Yet, 51% of Americans between 55 and 64 are without one.
If you already have a will, be sure the information is up-to-date. If you haven’t yet prepared one, consider writing a simple will, which you can legally prepare on your own, if you choose.
Those with a substantial amount of assets may also want to consider a trust. They can be useful for estate planning, but there may be high expenses associated with opening one.
Should you become incapable of making your own decisions, you will also want to have a durable power of attorney in place with someone you trust.
While everyone’s list of important personal records will differ, below are examples of records to consider gathering.
- Identification information such as full name, social security number, birth certificate, drivers license and passport.
- Family information including names and addresses of your children and spouse.
- Certificates of marriage, divorce, adoption, citizenship and other.
- Medication, allergy and other healthcare information, in case of emergency.
- Login information for your personal computer, cell phone or other electronic devices, as well as to all online accounts. Some preplanning forms include a “tech custodian,” who will need access to this information.
- Additional personal information to create a story of your life, such as military records, education, employers and awards.
Collecting and organizing your financial information allows you to protect your assets for loved ones. Read on for a few examples of financial information to gather.
- Proof of ownership documents, which could include vehicles, homes, a cemetery plot or stock certificate ownership.
- Bank statements and bank account access information, as well as an explanation of how cash flows through your accounts.
- Credit card accounts, as well as any debt or account access information.
- Social security and Medicare or Medicaid
- The locations of any safe deposit boxes and instructions for access.
- Insurance information, which could include anything from health, home, life and car insurance.
- Home mortgages, listing the account numbers, names on the account, location of paperwork and other pertinent details.
Along with your current and past financial records, you should also consider the finances of your funeral or cremation, memorial services and other last wishes. The average cost of a funeral is between $7,000 and $10,000.
Consider preplanning your funeral, which offers significant benefits for you and your family. Not only do you save them from taking on the financial burden, by preplanning your funeral they won’t have to make crucial decisions as they mourn. Discuss and document your final wishes, so your family knows exactly what to do when the time comes.
Learn more about the financial benefits of preplanning your funeral in our Seniors Guide to Preplanning.
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