Last month I wrote about estate planning and the importance of having an estate plan. Today, I want you to download a resource to convey to your loved ones the who, what, and where of your important contacts and information. It’s called “The Personal Information Checklist (PIC).”
“In case the worst happens.” That was the cover page on a fax I received from my father. Hurricane Irma was on the way, and although I know where his financial accounts and estate documents are, he had more information to share.
It was the cover page to his homeowner’s policy! Really dad?!? If the worst happens, he’s no longer with us, and I am faced with all that entails. In his mind, he doesn’t want his heirs to lose out on a claim that he’s paid the insurance company to cover. I get it, we all want a return that’s coming to us.
In my father’s mind, he wanted to make it easy for me to have the necessary information in the event that I may need it. In my mind, I need much more than the cover page to his homeowner’s insurance. A tool to collect pertinent data to convey information was in order.
Do you know who your parent’s physicians are? What about their close friends where they winter, or summer, as the case may be? Do your children know the CPA, attorney, or other professionals you rely upon?
Where do you start?
One of the first things you should do is utilize our complimentary personal information checklist to help you pull it all together. This is a comprehensive depository of all your personal, financial and administrative information organized for the benefit of your family or beneficiaries. You can use this checklist to keep track of it all now and help your family out when you’re no longer able to access it all.
Here are a few other tips to help you along the way.
We all have physical documents that are of some significance. In our digital world, we also have dozens of pieces of digital data that are important. Tax returns, car titles, bank statements, the list could go on.
This is information that only exists in paper form, in the physical world. Knowing what you have and where it is, is key to keeping organized with your personal information.
Take stock of what you have and then decide on an organization system that you will stick with, whether it’s binders, a filing cabinet, or labeled boxes. Be sure to store your very important documents in a personal safe or secure firebox.
Where do we even begin to organize our many websites, accounts, and passwords? It can get overwhelming to remember where everything is, much less how to log in once we find it. Some people keep spreadsheets or notebooks with all of this information in it. But, do your loved ones know where this information is and how to find it?
By keeping all of this information documented in a secure, easy to use, easy to find location you can ensure you have it when it is needed.
Does anyone in your family know who your primary care physician is, what specialists you see? Do they know your attorney’s name and your insurance agent?
It is important that you have a list of all of your important contacts and that you convey this information to the right people. This will not only help your family reach out to the right people, but it will also give them a great resource on how to contact the right people for support during an emergency or during a difficult time.
Why does it matter?
Most people do an okay job of keeping everything straight in their head or in their own little filing or notebook system, but what happens in the event of an emergency? What if you were traveling and you needed a loved one to take care of a financial emergency? What if you were sick and in the hospital and you needed a loved one to take care of your household finances? What if when you are gone and your family needs to settle your accounts and your estate and they don’t know where anything is?
Gathering this information together, and having a designated place for keeping it can help you find it when you really need it—or even help your family find it after you are gone and they aren’t able to ask.
Download The Personal Information Checklist and start the conversation. For those of you who are clients, I will be providing this to you with my contact information, and that of your tax preparer and estate planning attorney (if I have them on file). Need it sooner than our next review? Let me know and I’ll send it to you.
Kevin Stoddard is a LPL Financial Advisor with Stoddard Financial in Quincy, Massachusetts. Stoddard helps clients throughout New England to identify, plan, and execute strategies designed for securing their desired financial future. With their Financial Wellness @ Work program, they engage, educate, and empower employees by helping them to understand and appreciate the value of their benefits package.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.