The Death File

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.

Published by

Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

One thought on “The Death File”

  1. You hit the nail on the head. When my father passed away he had organized all of the important documents and information into one briefcase. He also added me to his bank accounts (by turning them into joint accounts), made sure I was on the signature for the safe deposit box, he updated his wills, updated all of his life insurance information, gave me a general power of attorney, and kept a detailed record of his recurring bills. Of course he was a retired SGM and many would expect that from him. Still, I thank him for this last little kindness that he gave me. He reduced the amount of stress that I went through a tremendous amount.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *