When faced with a health crisis with a family member, children or others find themselves scrambling to locate important records or other information – everything from access to checking accounts, a list of current medications to names and phone numbers of lawyers, clergy and doctors. Organizing this information into a central location may seem like a big task, but your family will thank you over and over if you do. This advice is valid for people of any age, yet may become more critical as we get older.
Putting everything that is important in one place is ideal, but for many may not be practical. It is possible to document all this information in one place, providing a road map for your family.
Important information falls into three categories: legal documents, personal records and in today’s digital age, electronic records – account login and password information.
Will and trusts indicate how you want your assets and possessions distributed after you die.
Advance directives are documents that describe your health care wishes when you cannot speak for yourself. A living will can say how you want your health managed and may help your family avoid conflict over that care should you be in a life threatening situation and unable to make medical decisions. A durable healthcare power of attorney lets you name another person or several people to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated. A standard power of attorney lets you name another person to handle your personal and financial matters for you. However this is only useful if you can still make your own decisions. A durable power of attorney lets you name someone to make these personal and financial decisions if you become unable to do so yourself.
This is a fairly long list of information that would be needed by anyone who is trying to help manage your affairs, whatever the situation. This would include your social security number, date and place of birth, location of legal documents, names and contact information for lawyers and financial advisors, lists of medications you are taking, military records if you are a veteran, birth, marriage and divorce certificates - the list goes on and on. A useful Information Checklist that accompanies this article will help you gather everything.
As more of us manage our bank, investment and credit cards accounts online, it is important to have account access information for all financial websites in a safe place but where a spouse or other family member can find it. Do you use Facebook to keep in touch with children and grandchildren? Your Facebook page will live on after you have left this life. If you think that your family may prefer to have access to either remove your page or add an obituary, add this login information to your file.
Use this Download My Important Information Checklist to help get your affairs in order and tell your family where they can find it. You will be glad you did.