Let’s face it, you know all of your financial information, or at least who to contact to get it. But do you share that information with your family? If not, I suggest creating a roadmap to locate important financial information. Your financial roadmap is an important document that summarizes all of your financial information in one place. It’s also a document that helps you, or your family, reconstruct your financial records when needed.
What to include.
The first step in creating your roadmap is to make a list of important names, addresses, and phone numbers. It should include family members, your closest friends, doctors, and your professional advisors (Attorney, Financial Advisor, Banker, Insurance Agent, etc.).
Next, gather information on your financial accounts. For example, where are you bank and investment accounts? Who does your family contact about them? Are passwords or other account information needed to access them?
Be sure to include important documents like life insurance policies, employee benefit information, birth and marriage certificates, passports, the original copy of your will (or a note detailing where your original will is located), trust agreements, powers of attorney, etc. You might even want to scan copies of important documents and keep them on a secure internet site.
These are some thoughts that you can improve upon and customize to suit you. There may be more information, or less information that you want to include. Regardless, remember to keep the list and copies updated.
Your virtual life.
When creating your financial roadmap, include a list of websites and login information your family may need to access. As more and more people conduct more of their life online, your roadmap becomes increasingly important. Millions of people store financial records and other information online and can include everything from photos and social media pages to brokerage accounts and online banking. In addition, many people use websites to manage their utilities such as cable or phone service, power and water.
Take an inventory of all your digital accounts and add login information for each account. Save the information on a flash drive and store it in a locked safe. Taking a few steps today can keep your virtual information from getting lost in cyberspace.
We receive and pass on two types of inheritances. The first is financial inheritance (estate planning). The second type is legacy planning and includes values, traditions, and lessons most important to you. These are things you want to ensure your beneficiaries know or remember even when you aren’t there to teach them. This can include anything from how to properly use credit and credit cards to how you budget and financial lessons you’ve learned. To do this, simply write a letter and detail those things most important to you. (I also encourage you to include life lessons and stories to pass down to the next generation.)
I recommend my clients consider putting together a financial roadmap to outline\ the location of important information, and how to access that information. This simple planning can help avoid what some people refer to as “headache on top of heartache”. If anything happens to you, it’s important information for survivors to have. In addition, should there be a natural disaster, your financial roadmap can help you get everything in order again.
I know it isn’t pleasant to think about these things, but it is prudent. Wouldn’t you rather be prepared than be caught off guard?