In the event I die – Information for my family

By glblguy


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

30 Responses (including trackbacks) to “In the event I die – Information for my family”

  1. Kristen Says:

    I think it’s very smart to prepare for the “what ifs.” My mother and I were just talking about this very thing not long ago. She said she should make a list for my dad. She handles all of the money in their house. My dad doesn’t have a clue what bills need to be paid, how she pays them, what the amounts are. If something were to happen to her, he would have a very difficult time.

    My husband and I both participate in bill paying, so we both know what all of the bills are. It makes it easier.

  2. Neal Frankle Says:

    This is an important post – and one close to my heart since I was orphaned at age 17 and my parents made no provisions whatsoever.

    At a minimum, I’d add how the family will replace your income and what the plans are to fund college for the children.

    If your spouse is a good financial and investment person, fine. If not, name a good friend who is or select a financial adviser to help with the income creation from investments.

    Thank you for bringing this subject up…

  3. Kellie Smith Says:


    I really enjoy your site and daily updates. Today’s really made me think that this is something that I need to do too. I am a single mom of an 11 year old. While I have a will and a trust, I don’t have all things written down in one place. This will be something that I tend to immediately. As I was reading this, it brought tears to my eyes, as I understand the necessity but the sadness of it too. Thank you writing about this.

  4. Michael Halbrook Says:

    Thank you for this post! Every time I get on a plane for work (which is very frequently these days), I think that I should do this, for my wife and two sons.

    But I’m always intimidated by listing out the details of what all should be included. Having this as a jumping-off point is wonderful.

    Thank you again!

  5. Scott @ The Passive Dad Says:

    My wife and I recently met with an attorney and had a durable power of attorney, will and health directive created in the event anything should happen. My wife lost both her parents and we are learning the lessons of being unprepared for funeral arrangements and estate taxes.

    I think you have done a tremendous service to your family by organizing your passwords and spreadsheets so that they have immediate access to everything. I wonder how many guys have left this information. My guess would be around 10%

  6. Ken Says:

    Great post! I’m going to get this info in one place for my wife within the next week. We have a will, but the exact info on accounts is a missing piece. Thanks for the heads up.

  7. DDFD at Says:

    Great post!

    Nine out of ten people I talk to don’t have a will if they are under age 60. Half of those who do have a will haven’t updated it in years.

    This stuff is a must!

    Freaky, photo by the way . . .

  8. glblguy Says:

    @DDFD – Freaky? How so? It was the girls eyes that caught my attention. They just look so sad. The sharpness was really good too. I love high quality and different photos…guess this fits the bill huh?

  9. Do You Dave Ramsey? Says:

    This is critical information thanks for promoting the concept. I have created what Dave Ramsey and others call a “love drawer”. It is basically a paper based vesion of what you have here. All the household admin stuff that would never enter my wife’s mind were something to happen. I strongly encourage everyone to give this some serious thought.

  10. jeff smith Says:

    Something more people have thought about than done. Thanks for the encouragement. It works both ways too. If something would happen to the spouse who does not keep “the books”, it would make it easier to handle too. OR if something happened to both of you at the same time. Whew…. don’t like to think about it, but I need to do the same.

    Again, thanks for the encouragement.

  11. jeff smith Says:

    I just made hard copies of this entry for my Sunday School Class. My wife and I lead a couple “HomeBuilders” class each Sunday. I often give them good articles to read. I just saved the info as a PDF and printed. It has your website and all on it. I’ll make sure they know you did it an all that proper stuff. I’ll point them to your blog. (good stuff)

    I’m betting most in the class will say something like, “Oh, yeah, I’m planning on doing this.” But few will say, “I’ve already taken care of this.”

    Thanks again for the information.

  12. Michael @ The Life Insurance Insider Says:

    I’ll second your opinion from the perspective of a life insurance company.

    I work a lot with life insurance claims in my job and you would be shocked at how many people have life insurance policies, but their heirs can’t find the policy in order to file the claim and collect. Usually the family knows the person had life insurance, but doesn’t know where the policy is or even what company the policy was with. What good is it if it and all your records are buried in secret spot in the backyard.

    If you don’t have the policy or records of the policy, short of calling every life insurance company that is licensed or was licensed to sell life insurance in the state there is not much else you can do to track these things down.

  13. shelley Says:

    This doesn’t speak to all of the information needed by the survivor, but to the type of service that I’d like when I pass. I don’t want my children to be burdened with sorrow when I die, so I want an upbeat funeral. I want a celebration of my life that will hopefully inspire the lost to get saved and any who are backslid to repent and be reconciled with Christ, not a service that will keep people in tears. I want played Big Daddy Weave’s song “Neighborhoods”. “One day I will fly to that mansion in the sky, and I’ll have no regrets when I leave this place for good. When I say my last farewell, oh please, don’t forget to tell them: I’m not really dead I’m just changing neighborhoods.” Hopefully it’ll keep the focus where I’d like it to be.

  14. DDFD at Says:

    @glblguy– The photo is “horror movie” disturbing somehow . . . eerie, chilling? In a good way of course– for the topic. The look from the eyes is certainly piercing.

    BTW, I am putting this post in my Noteworthy Blog Posts of the Week– look for it in about 30 minutes . . . this is an important topic.

  15. Kim Woodbridge Says:

    Thank you for this post. My mother passed away recently and while she had all of the paperwork we needed it wasn’t all stored in one location. It was so difficult to be grieving and then have to spend an hour + going through files and boxes to find the document that we needed. Since that I’ve been planning on organizing all of my information but wasn’t sure how I would do it – your post really helps. I am divorced and have a young child so I want to gather everything together and give it to my brother.

  16. fathersez Says:

    Wow, I have talked about doing this so many times, but never really finished. I think your suggestion is about the most comprehensive and the easiest for me to follow.

    Still like you said though immensely important, it is extremely difficult.

  17. Bible Money Matters Says:

    Great post, and great reminder to set up something like this. I keep meaning to do it, and never get around to it. God forbid we ever need soemthing like this, but it’s better to have planned than not!

  18. kefalonia holidays Says:

    Not a nice subject to talk about but it is one that we must talk about. You need to be prepared.

  19. Henk Venter Says:


    The information you’ve included here is very, very significant. I do a lot of estate planning as a financial planner, and the information we tend to leave to our families are often so minimalistic, just because we tend to shy away from thinking about death.

    I will urge your readers to take this article to heart, and make sure their affairs are in order…

  20. chick in charge Says:

    My parents passed away. My mom first then eight months later my dad. Although my dad had everything legal in order. There were small things like how to service the furnace and get it ready for winter use. Where to turn it on! How to get it ready to shut down for the winter and now how to or where, who to call to get the a/c or evaporate(swamp)cooler working for the summer. If there is no hot water checklist of what it could be. The pilot light went off and where to check that? Just if the house had reoccurring issues where to look for the problem, maybe how to fix it? Where is the breaker switch? My dad had all the breaker switches labeled with #1 refrigerator & washer, #2 living room, etc. What to keep serviced? Oil changes for the car? Last time purchased a water heater. Extended warranties on appliances, refrigerator, stove, washer, dryer, dishwasher. All this information helps believe me!