“Nobody likes to do it, but it has to be done.” You’ve heard that before. This time, it applies to 26 documents that you should have all bundled up in a folder that trusted family members have access to (someplace where fire and water won’t damage them). But first let’s go over some details about what should be in that bundle.
- Your will: Some say not a copy, but the original, accompanied by instructions. Supplying everyone in your will a copy is also advised by others.
- A completed power of attorney form that your benefactors have access to, should you become rendered impaired.
- Complete list of loans you’ve made to others, and debts.
- Proof of ownership of the following if you have them: owned property/housing, vehicles, cemetery plots, savings bonds, stock certificates, brokerage/escrow mortgage accounts and partnership/corporate operating agreements.
- Last three years’ of tax returns might seem excessive, but if you can, do it.
- Name of bank and phone number, account numbers, online login information
- Register a family member or spouse’s name with the bank; have them sign the registration document to allow them access to your accounts.
- A list of safe deposit boxes if you have them
- Power of attorney form. If you become incapacited, who will make medical care decisions for you? This should also be IN your will.
- Choose your POA attorney while you’re of sound mind.
- Have it spelled out how you’d like to be treated in the event of incapacitation (and this includes what should be done if you end up in a persistent vegetative state). Who pulls the plug?
Marriage & Divorce
- Does your spouse know where your marriage license is?
- If you’re divorced, make sure there are documents spelling out child support, alimony and any property settlements and financial divisions. To avoid disputes, include bank account numbers for the appropriate settlements.
- Keep copies of life insurance documents.
- Last but not least is the qualified domestic-relations order, that can prove your spouse got a share of your retirement accounts.
- Family members should have copies of life insurance documents and contact information for the carrier.
In a Nutshell, the Top 26
- Marriage license
- Divorce papers
- Living will (what should be done if you’re alive but incapacitated)
- Personal/family medical history
- Authorization to release medical care information
- Durable healthcare POA
- Do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order
- Tax returns
- Housing, land and cemetery deeds
- Escrow mortgage accounts
- Proof of loans made and owed debts
- Titles for vehicles
- Stock certificates, savings bonds and brokerage accounts
- Partnerships and corporate operating agreements
- Life insurance policies
- Pension documents
- Annuity contracts
- Bank account list
- List of bank usernames and passwords
- Safe-deposit box list
- Letter of instruction for the will
- Trust documents
- Updated passwords document for all your critical accounts.
Do you have docs you think should be on this list? Please provide in the comments.