Preparing Your Financial Information For The Inevitable

As my net worth sneaks above the break-even point, I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have accumulated a small number of steadily growing assets and my primary debt at this point is student loans. As I look forward to the future, I see a house purchase and another child in the next few years.

But when I look at my wife and my son, part of me can’t help but wonder what would happen to them if the inevitable were to happen. What if I were to get into an accident and die? How would they know how to access my life insurance and have information on my savings and investments?

To alleviate this worry, I prepared a binder that contains all of the information that my wife would need in the event of my tragic end. This binder is designed to walk her through the steps she needs to take care of all of my outstanding accounts, as well as provide some personal reminders for her.

The document opens, sensibly, with a copy of my will. Following this, for each outstanding account, I’ve included a page that details all information needed about the account. This includes the account number, online methods of access, and any contact information and forms she might need in order to close the account. I’ve arranged these in rough order of importance, with the largest balances that she can obtain coming first and such items as zero-balance accounts coming last.

I was able to generate this list of accounts by simply going through my own personal records. Any account that I have any record of, whether it be insurance, credit, savings, investment, or otherwise warranted a page (and perhaps supplementary pages) in the binder.

Following this, I included a thorough list of personal assets that she may want to liquidate or save as personal remembrances. These include items such as my autographed baseball collection, my wedding ring, and a few other personal miscellaneous assets that she might need.

I’ve also included a personal letter to my wife, as well as a number of letters to my son at different ages. In each letter to my son, I have included a small financial reward in the form of a savings bond in his name; when he reaches each age, I will remove the letter and that bond from the binder and give him the bond. This enables me to share some of my thoughts with him if he were to grow up without me in his life.

I update this binder roughly every six months, or in the event of a major change such as a move or a major asset acquisition. This binder currently resides in a safety deposit box in a local bank, with the key stored in a very safe personal place for retrieval in a time of need.

I hope that this binder never has to be used, but I have the peace of mind of knowing that if something were to happen to me, my wife is as prepared as she could possibly be.

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