Who is the main accountant in your family? The key recordkeeper? Holder of your credit card history, insurance policies, medical infomation, and data on retirement and brokerage accounts, etc.? If only one of you is the font all this wisdom, listen up:
What if this all-knowing seer (you, maybe?) can no longer remember, share, provide, or communicate this information to other family members because of illness, an unforeseen crisis, or even death?
Storing this in a computer doesn’t mean anything if your family members lack keywords and passwords, or don’t even know that the data is stored…somewhere. If all this information is in your computer, have you backed it up on a hard drive? If yes, where’s the hard drive? Next to the computer? Or stored in a separate location? Or is it on a ‘thumb drive’ that you have stored in a safety deposit box?
Have you made hard copies (paper) of this information? Is the information in one or more locations, a file, or better, in a safety deposit box? If yes, how many family members know where it is? Have they seen the file? If they don’t live in your town, have you given them instructions as to how to retrieve this information?
Sorry to nag. But I just read about a guy who had shared all his information with his children but one item: what life insurance policies he owned. After his unexpected death it took weeks for his kids to comb through six file cabinets of papers to finally locate his insurance information. Were he still alive, that would have been one tough conversation hs kids didn’t need to have.
To avoid such tough conversations between you (or your spirit) and your remaining family members, add to your New Year’s Resolutions this one: You will assemble, collate, organize, store, etc. all the financial and medical information your family may need in case of your death. And make sure your spouse, offspring, whoever you deem essential will have copies of all this data or have access to where it’s stored.
Two organizations have made it easy for us to organize this information: A special thanks to the American Postal Workers Union and the Screen Actors Guild for their printable vital records organizers. (http://www.apwu.org/dept/retiree/survivorsguide0909.pdf) (http://www.sagph.org/html/vital.pdf).
Louisa Weinrib says
Sig, thanks for the reminder to update our list, which we call “How To Find It When We Ain’t Here”, which we give as hard copy to our grown sons who live in other cities. In addition to the items you listed, we include spare keys and friends’ keys, guns (this is the South), appraisals, and names and numbers of legal and financial advisors. Whew! It’s far better to stay healthy.