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Documents You Need Before Death

Death sometimes comes at unexpected moments. Recording a few pieces of information can spare your loved ones needless work and aggravation and maximize the financial assets to take care of your family. From a practical perspective, creating the lists that we suggest can also help you remember your account numbers and passwords if you've forgotten them.

Easily Accessible Information

This first set of documents needs to be easy to find. Put them in a folder in a file cabinet or place them in a fire safe in your house. This material should not contain your financial information. If someone intent on theft should come upon it, you wouldn't be exposed to anything other than having to rewrite the documentation.

Make sure that your family and friends know where to locate:

  • Address book and/or password for your cell phone
  • Location of the secure documents, including where to get keys or combinations, etc.
  • Work phone numbers
  • A list of the people responsible immediately for children and pets
  • Contact information for your attorney, accountant, financial advisor, and executor
  • Letter of instructions regarding your funeral or a completed Temple Beth Shalom Preferences Form. Realize that although you may express your wishes, those living will ultimately be making those decisions.
  • Passwords for computer access, email, social networking, bill accounts, and bank accounts, especially if bills and statements are only sent online
  • Regularly scheduled appointments to be cancelled
  • Key friends to contact

Documents Placed in a Safe Place

The details of our financial lives can be daunting, especially for a grieving family. This material contains the keys to your financial life, and should be stored in a secure place. A floor-mounted or wall-mounted safe or bank safe-deposit box would be ideal.

Important Family Documents:

  • Will
  • Letter of Instruction
  • Trust Documents
  • Power of Attorneys
  • Marriage License
  • Divorce Papers
  • Housing and Land Deeds and Interment-Related Documents
  • Escrow Mortgage Accounts
  • Vehicle Titles
  • Stock Certificates, Saving Bonds and Brokerage Accounts
  • Partnership and Corporate Operating Agreements
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Individual Retirement Accounts
  • 401(k) Accounts
  • Pension Documents
  • Annuity Contracts
  • List of Bank Accounts
  • Social Security Cards
  • Military discharge papers
  • Birth Certificates for you, your spouse and your children
  • Estate Plan - A document typically prepared with instructions for funding and generating trusts.
  • Past Tax Returns and Present Tax Information (could be in either location but these contain a lot of personal information)

Include the list of the following type of policies, including the policy number, security and password information:

  • Health
  • Life
  • Homeowners
  • Auto
  • Travel/Accident

Proof of loans made and debts owed, as well as the account number and password information:

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Car Loans
  • List of rotating bills and services like gardening, lawn, cleaning
  • Charitable commitments
  • Legal Judgments
  • Personal loans - "I borrowed $200 from Bob"
  • Partial ownership in boats, vehicles, and planes

Sources of Income:
Include the nature, account numbers, security and password information for the following types of income:

  • Brokerage/investment accounts
  • Pensions
  • Social Security
  • IRA's
  • Savings
  • Money Markets
  • Stock Certificates
  • CD's
  • 529 Plans
  • Veteran's Benefits
  • Checking Accounts
  • Legal Judgments
  • Personal Loans - "I loaned Bob $200," and whether or not you wish the family to see to collect his debt.
  • Ownership or partial interest in a company
Thu, July 25 2024 19 Tammuz 5784