In the event I die – Information for my family
I’m currently out of town on business. I don’t travel often, but when I do for some crazy reason a few days before I always begin to think through the question: “How easy would it be for my wife to pick up our finances if died?“ I’m not really afraid of flying and I’ve flown on planes many many times over the years, but the same thought always runs through my mind without fail.
As a result, I’ve done a number of things with our finances to make it as easy as possible for her to get a handle on where everything is, how to access our accounts, pay the bills, get insurance money, etc, etc. in the event I die. I thought it might be beneficial to share these things with you:
We do our finances together
While I pay the bills, handle most of the deposits, and do the actual updates to the budget, my wife is always aware of finances. We do our monthly budget together, review it often throughout the month, and keep each other informed of any purchases we make and the impact of those to our account balances and budget. She is always aware of were we currently stand financially.
She is also aware of to whom we owe money (i.e. debt) and what the current balances and payments are. This includes credit cards, our mortgages, car payment, etc.
I maintain a list of websites, user-ids
In a spreadsheet and stored on a small USB flash drive, I maintain a list of all of the websites for bank accounts, investments (401k), mortgages, insurance, etc. In that list I also list the user-id for my account. I don’t include the passwords, BUT she knows the pattern I use for my passwords. I use a very specific pattern that is unique to each site but also easy to remember. She is mentally aware of what those passwords are. I considered keeping the passwords on the USB drive, but am just not comfortable with the associated risk.
Using the USB drive, she can open up the spreadsheet and immediately have access to any of our financial related web-sites.
I maintain a list of accounts
On the same USB flash drive, I have another spreadsheet that includes all of our our accounts and account numbers and any PIN numbers associated with these accounts. Most banks don’t require PINs anymore, but a few do. Similar to the website list, this file would provide her with immediate knowledge of all of our accounts and the financial institution they are associated with.
I maintain an “In the event I die” document
One of the more difficult things I’ve done was to create a document call “In the event I die”. This document includes very detailed instructions on what she should do if something were to ever happen to me. It includes:
- Instructions for contacting our insurance agent which include our life insurance policy numbers and dollar amounts.
- Instructions for contacting my manager at work and our HR department. The instructions contain very detailed information on what benefits she would expect to receive and things she would need to work with my manager to complete. In these instructions, I’ve included my managers contact information and my employee ID number. I’ve also included my second level manager’s information in case my immediate manager wasn’t available.
- Contact information for all of relatives and friends. The last thing I want her to have to deal with is researching all of my relative and friends contact information, so I included a list that she can just give to someone to make the necessary calls. While not personal finance related per say, I feel this is important.
- Directory of important files. I keep important files in 3 different places: my laptop, a USB flash drive, and in my Gmail. My “In the event I die” document contains for each storage location a high level directory of what files are where. While I am not sure she would need them, I wanted to her to be able to easily find them if she did.
- Letters. At the bottom of the document are very personal letters that I’ve written to her and each of my children. The letter to my wife contains information on how I would like my remains to be taken care of, the type of service I would like, and other misc info. The letters also shares with her and my children how much they mean to me. While I know they know how I feel about them, I wanted an opportunity to share it with them one last time. I also wanted to provide something that they could keep and read over the years. Sad? Yes. Difficult to write? Extremely. Important? Immensely.
Death isn’t something we want to think about, talk about or deal with, but it’s a reality of life. While we all hope to live to a ripe old age, the reality is that we can be taken from this world at anytime. I was reminded of this over the past few years through a few work friends passing on suddenly. I love my wife dearly, and care about her enough to spend a few hours pulling together all of this information. Will she ever need it? I certainly hope not, but if she does I know that I’ve done that one last thing that will make things easy for her.
Is your spouse and family taken care of? Does your better half or family know where your money is and how to access it? Do they know how to get your insurance benefits? If not, spend some time writing up a document with the necessary information.
Have I missed anything? What steps have you taken to make sure you family is taken care of in your untimely departure from this world? Add a comment!
Photo by: adobemac