It seems a bit morbid planning for what happens when you head to the great beyond. However, some well-considered organising while you’re alive will give you peace of mind. It will also help the people you leave behind immeasurably. Start by creating an in-case-of-death file…
Grieving is tough. Grieving while having to search for missing paper work and insurance policies is hell. The biggest favour you can do for your family is to be organised. An emergency/death file includes:
Keep these with your file or in a safe:
A good idea is to keep electronic copies of these documents on a hard drive. It may also help to sign a few of these, so if your family needs to provide signed copies of these documents when dealing with transferring property into their names and managing accounts they can.
Your Will should name an executor, guardians for children and their property, say how debts and taxes will be paid and should serve as a backup for a living trust. Your Will often won’t be read in time for your funeral, so you should leave a separate document stating what your wishes for your funeral are. Be aware, a Will cannot put conditions on a gift, leave certain kinds of property, leave money to pets or earmark money for illegal purposes.
You should include the original copies of your insurance policies and the contact information for the advisor dealing with your policies.
Banks are not fun to deal with on the best of days and you will be lucky if they get it right when you die. Your spouse and family are almost guaranteed to have some headaches dealing with hapless bank employees after your death. Save your family at least some of the stress by including all of your different account information in the file. This includes safety boxes, personal banking accounts, utility bills, mortgage information, credit cards, debts, property deeds etc.
As mentioned, a funeral plan should be separate to your Will so your family know how to plan your funeral or memorial. This will save bad feeling or bickering among relatives who think your funeral should be held in a specific way. If there will be costs associated with the funeral or memorial keep documents of a funeral policy in this file so your family can draw on it to pay for the day.
Leaving letters, mementoes, videos or voice recordings to special people in your life is a deeply personal choice. However, it is a very humane thing to do – it will let your loved ones keep a part of you with them to visit and remember you by in the future. It gives you the opportunity to tell them you love them and say goodbye in the event you die suddenly. This will help give your loved ones some comfort and closure.
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