As the old saying goes, there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. While Uncle Sam will always be waiting in the wings for his fair share, you can create a family financial records almanac to help ease your family's stress and emotional toll during a health crisis or passing.
It’s common in many families for one spouse to manage money matters. The other spouse may not even know the full extent of investment accounts or insurance benefits, let alone how to access or activate them. This can leave a gaping hole during a serious health scare or death in the family.
A family financial almanac is a record of all your investments, accounts, insurance, and other vital information, including passwords, that will inform family members in case you become unable to manage your finances. It can take a few hours to several days to compile the necessary information into one place, but it can save days or even weeks of stress for your family members.
Creating your almanac can be as simple as putting this information into a three-ring binder or saving the data on a thumb drive and storing it in your safety deposit box. Be sure to tell your spouse, kids, and other family members where they can locate this financial record.
Start With a Net Worth Statement
The first component of the family financial almanac is a net worth statement. This includes every investment account, checking account, and retirement account.
On the flip side, note any outstanding loans, including mortgages, business loans, student debt, or credit card debt. This is a starting place for your spouse or kids to begin navigating through the family finances.
More items to include:
- A list of important contacts: financial advisor, lawyer, accountant
- Estate planning documents: will, living trust, power of attorney
- Contracted services: lawn care, cable, utilities, newspaper delivery
- Electronic accounts: logins and passwords, including social media and e-mail
- Insurance policies: life, disability, long-term care, health, property, and casualty, along with beneficiary information
- Employment benefits: insurance, retirement plans
- Family history or family tree
- Desires for family: a letter to loved ones explaining how to use the inheritance to accomplish goals or leave a legacy—this is a personal accompaniment to more official documents, such as your will
Hey, it’s no fun to take on this task and think about serious illness or death. But consider the creation of a family financial record a loving way to take care of your family even after you are gone.
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