No one knows when they are going to die. It is the one thing that is a mystery to everyone. And while many people pretend that death is never going to happen, it is coming. Morbid, much? For most of us, that time is way in the future, but that does not mean we should not start preparing now. To ensure that you do not leave disaster or confusion in the wake of disaster, here are a few steps to make sure your affairs are in order. Get organized. The death of a loved one is stressful enough on family. But to frantically search for important documents will make the nightmare that much worse. Make a list of all of your personal information, legal documents and financial records and keep somewhere safe. Not hidden, just safe. (I.e. somewhere that your family can find easily, but not strangers.) This will make it a lot easier on your loved ones when you are no longer here.
Make a list of all important contacts and their contact information. This should include family members, close friends and neighbors and doctors. Make sure to include the contact info for all professional contacts such as lawyers, accountants, lawyers and investment bankers. And don’t forget the number to your life insurance agent. Gather together all personal documents like deed for your house, title to your car, birth certificate, marriage license and Social Security card. Make sure these documents are kept safe in a safe deposit box at a bank or a fire proof box at home. Keep a list of all things that would be secured such as safe deposit box at a bank, personal safe and other alarms. Keep passwords and keys in a place that family members can find them, but not burglars.
You are never too young to create a will. This is especially important if you have assets. However, a will is not just about who gets what when you pass on. Your will should also include advance directives. Advance directives explain what you want if you cannot make decisions for yourself. For example, if you want your organs or tissues donated. Or if you want to remain on life support if you are brain dead. These are decisions that are near impossible for family members to make, so if you make them ahead of time the guess work is gone.
Gather and compile a list of all of your financial accounts. This should include investments such as IRAs, 401Ks and other investments. Many pensions and IRAs go unused because family members did not know it existed. Keep a list of all other financial accounts like checking and savings accounts and stocks. Create a contact list for each institution with your account number for easy access. Keep a list of every current insurance policy you have. To ensure that your family get the benefits of a life insurance policy (which is why you got a life insurance policy in the first place), keep account numbers and contact info for the insurance agent handy.