Let’s face it, no one ever wants to talk about death. No one wants to talk about planning for their own death or the death of their spouse, or parent. But the reality is, it will happen at some point. Having an estate plan is a great way to plan. At a bare minimum, you should have a will and if you have minor children, name a guardian. But what about the everyday logistics? Who pays the bills? How are the bills paid? Via automatic bill pay or paid by checks hand written each month? Do you have life insurance? Did your spouse have life insurance or a pension through work? Do you know how to access it?
For each of my clients, I give them a “Summary of Everything” sheet. It is up to them to fill out, but it is something they should update every 2-3 years. In addition to identifying what bills are paid, and how (automatic/manually), banking information and account passwords should also be shared amongst spouses so that in the case of one passing, the other can take over the household more easily. Dealing with the unexpected death of a loved one is hard enough, but having to piece together household accounts and insurance policies should not be.
- Accounts – Bank (Savings, Checking, Money Market), Investment, Pension
- Insurance Policies – at work, personal (company name/policy number/contact number)
- Bills Paid – What bill, how its paid, account number, who is on the account, how the account is accessed (Cable, water, cell phone, electric/gas, landscaper, school loans, tuition, etc.)
- Taxes – Real Estate/School, is it escrowed or paid in February and October?
- Vehicles – are there loans, if not where is the title?
- Where are important papers? In a safety deposit box? Where is the key? Which bank? Let people you trust know where to find key information.