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When Was the Last Time You Updated Your Financial Information?

Gain peace of mind by organizing and preparing your financial information for when you can no longer manage your affairs. You’ll relieve your loved ones from having to gather documents and figure out how to access accounts in the future. It will ensure proper management of your financial situation and offer control over your end-of-life experience and legacy.

The goal of preparing is to create and maintain an accurate list of accounts, passwords, and relevant contact names at financial institutions. Planners and books (My Life DirectoryI’m Dead. Now What?) are available to help you understand the scope of the project and start the process of organizing all records and personal information. Whether you are a parent, near retirement, or both, informational instructions will spare your family a lot of work and heartache.

Adding Your Financial Information to Your Estate Plan

You should already have an estate plan with necessary documents such as a will, living will, durable power of attorney and medical attorney, etc. If this is not the case, retain an estate or elder law attorney to create these important legal documents. You can then focus your attention on the written steps your family should take if something happens to you. These steps should include a list of all relevant information:

  • Names (think bankers, lawyers, insurance agents) and their contact information
  • Digital and hard assets
  • Accounts
  • Bills
  • Debt
  • Credit cards
  • Insurance policies
  • Annuities
  • Pensions
  • PINs
  • Passwords

Include a list of all companies and invoice types (monthly, quarterly, annually) that automatically debit money from your checking account. This list contains anyone and anything that is part of your financial life.

Online Resources to Get Started

Numerous books, planners, and online free worksheets can help you identify those things that need to be included in your financial information; this can be your starting point.

Online websites or apps can store your data and instructions for a one-time or recurring fee. These sites are typically referred to as estate-planning organizers, end-of-life planners, document storage, and even “death apps.”

While these options may sound intriguing, some may worry that consolidated personal financial data opens them to the possibility of identity theft, hacking, misuse of records, erasure, and loss using these services. Use them as a guide instead.

Store Your Data on Your Computer or Storage Device

Digitize your information in a word editor or spreadsheet and store it on a flash drive. Print hard copies of your instructions and information and leave them with other important documents like your will or the deed to your home.

Are you low-tech? There is no shame in a binder or spiral notebook containing this information. It is a bit more cumbersome to update, but many people choose to leave instructions to family members in handwritten letters, notes, and notebooks.

Be certain your handwritten instructions don’t become a pile of multiple scattered and undated papers. Stick to a standard method and throw out old documents.

Update Your Financial Records

Keep these records accurate with annual updates or any fundamental shift in how your finances are managed and by whom. Be sure your executor and other relevant family members know the location of this information. If you want your wishes to remain private until you are incapacitated or die, seal flash drives and hard copies in envelopes.

Preparing your financial records for your family can be time-consuming, but it is not complicated. The true goal of this task is organization and consolidation. And it is one of the most important financial tasks you will undertake during your life.

When you feel your project is near completion (other than annual updates), ensure nothing is being overlooked by consulting an estate planning attorney, who will make sure you have all of the necessary legal documents in place.

Russo Law Group provides services to help you organize your financial information and would be happy to talk with you about your estate planning needs. To speak with one of our experienced elder law and estate planning attorneys, please contact our office today at 1 (800) 680-1717.

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