Gayle Reeves' Blog

It Should Not Be Kept a Secret

Gayle A. Reeves - Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Last month I wrote about the need to put an estate plan in place.  As a follow-up to that, I want to discuss the information you should make available to the people you are going to depend on to carry out your plan.  This is the best time of year to review your financial and estate plan.  All of the income tax information is coming and it is easy to determine what you have, its current value, and how it is titled.  With all of this information being so handy it is the perfect time to put together a summary of your financial information.  Why is this summary so important?  It is important so that the person who takes over if you become incompetent, or when you die, knows what you have and can find it.  Ever wonder where the unclaimed funds come from?  Much of it is from bank accounts that no one knew existed.

Once you have prepared the summary DO NOT KEEP IT A SECRET.  Many times I have children come in who do not have an idea of where mom banked because it was personal information that the children did not need to know.  Well, guess what!   The children need to know where the checkbook is when mom is going into a nursing home and mom’s bills need to be paid.

If you have ever worked your way through 50 years, or more, of paperwork to try to find out whether there were any life insurance policies or whether a certificate of deposit was cashed in, you can appreciate the benefit that such a summary would provide to your loved ones.

Your summary should include the following information:

  1. A list of people to contact when you die or are in failing health with Instructions for a funeral or memorial service
  2. The location of important documents, such as your estate planning documents, will, insurance policies, financial statements, deeds, car titles, marriage certificate, and birth certificate
  3. A list of assets, such as bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, investment accounts, insurance policies, real estate holdings, and military benefits
  4. Passwords and PIN numbers for online accounts
  5. A list of contact information for lawyers, financial planners, brokers, tax preparers, and insurance agents
  6. A list of credit card accounts and other debts
  7. A list of organizations that you belong to that should be notified of your death (for example, professional organizations or boards)