The mantra of preppers is the same as the Boy Scout slogan – Be Prepared. Prepare as much as you can for whatever life throws at you. Part of that mindset or lifestyle is, or should be, to prepare for your eventual passing. Every single one of us owes the universe a death, unfortunately.
In order to help your family during what will surely be a troubled time, put together a Death File. Simply put, this is a file where you’ve collated all important information in one easy to access place. Doing so will make it incredibly easier for your loved ones to carry on in your absence.
What should be in the Death File?
–Documents related to your last wishes. A copy of your will, power of attorney, medical instructions on life support, that sort of thing. If you have specific requests for funeral arrangements, include that as well.
–Contact list. If there are specific people you wish to be notified of your passing, for example friends you know primarily or only online, make a list of them and their contact information.
–Financial papers. All bank accounts, trusts, tax records, property ownership, investment accounts, basically anywhere you have funds stashed or in which you have financial interest. You don’t necessarily need to include statements from each of these accounts, just indicate where they can be found.
–Other important papers. Passports, military records, adoption paperwork. Again, just leave instructions on where this info can be found.
–Insurance policies. Include information on every insurance policy you have, including the agent’s name and contact information.
–Safe deposit boxes and/or cash stashes. If you have one or more places you regularly stash some cash, tell your family how to find them.
–Professional contacts. If you are the one in your family who takes care of most of the record keeping, be sure to include a list of those professionals you deal with regularly. Accountants, attorneys, financial advisors.
–Online accounts. This would include email addresses as well as any social networking sites. Give your family instructions on how to access these accounts if need be, as well as closing them as appropriate.
–Bill paying information. If you are the primary bill payer in your family, leave detailed instructions on all regularly paid bills such as mortgage, credit cards, utilities, and property tax. How you pay (online, mailed check, etc.) as well as where to find the statements should be included. Be sure to also include information on canceling credit accounts, even the ones you don’t use very often.
Nobody likes to think about their own passing or the passing of a loved one. But, this is something you should do NOW. Trust me, your family will thank you for it.