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Jeruba's avatar

What resources have you used to prepare a "what my family should know" file?

Asked by Jeruba (47989points) February 8th, 2018

Our lives can change in a second. Even if we feel fine right now, anything can happen tomorrow or even later today. At some point it makes sense to be sure that someone knows how to find our important information and property in case we become seriously ill or die.

My husband and I have made our wills, but there is a lot of stuff we’ve never spelled out or organized before: for instance, where’s the title to my car, how do you close my online accounts, whom do you notify, what do I want done with my (—) collection? It’s time to do that.

If you’ve been through this uncomfortable process yourself, are there any particular tools or checklists or resources that you’ve found especially helpful?


Tags as I wrote them: wills, illness, death, getting affairs in order, final wishes.

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10 Answers

flutherother's avatar

I have drawn up a will and anyone starting up my PC will find a word document with details of my bank accounts, pension, insurance policies etc. I also have a filing cabinet beside my desk where all my personal papers are kept. I keep a little book in the desk with details of the passwords I use online. This website is helpful though it refers to the UK.

janbb's avatar

I had a good book from the library about talking to your kids about end of life preparation and planning but I can’t remember the name. If I do, I’ll let you know. I don’t have any documentation prepared yet but I have shown my US son the file drawers where I keep my bank info, insurance, house deed, etc. Will and advance care directive is up to date.

I haven’t done any prep work about burial or a funeral; that doesn’t mean much to me.

I should probably do a list of all the accounts but haven’t done it yet.

I just did a search for that book on Amazon and didn’t find it but searching under the heading “end of life planning” there were a number of record books and planners that seem like just what you’re looking for.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Working on this right now have been meaning to for a while. Thanks for the reminder.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

My parents were close friend with a couple when the husband died, leaving his wife very little knowledge and documentation of their finances. She had a really tough few years straightening things out.

My folks got the message and got all their records together and their wills. My dad died years ago and their earlier work has made it much easier as my brother and I take over my elderly mom’s affairs.

Off the top of my head, the checklist is to consolidate:
Property insurance and health insurance records
Banking account details
Investment account
Real estate records
A checklist of bills which need to be paid each month/year/whatever interval

Tropical_Willie's avatar

We have wills and other affidavits drawn up and registered. Including multiple executor or executrix.

funkdaddy's avatar

I’m really close to one friend’s family, and his dad is a lawyer who now specializes in wills.

He tells people all the basics, and suggests a firesafe or safe deposit box for the “master list” of accounts, passwords, keys, and titles.

But when they start worrying about how their lifetime of keepsakes will be distributed he suggests, kindly, that they give those things to people before they pass. The thinking is, if it’s not something you use often, then handing it to your intended recipient while you’re alive is going to be a more meaningful and rewarding event than them getting a box of items after your death. You can tell them whatever stories go with the item and it will truly come from you. Essentially you can deliver it exactly as you want it done after your death, and no one will screw it up for you.

I’m not there yet, but if I’m lucky enough to get there, that’s how I plan to distribute most things.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I have lost all my possessions, to floods. So, I feel I have little reason to dictate who gets my stuff.

I would add though, that it’s easier than ever, to perhaps make a video detailing whom gets what. I have seen many families destroyed by pathetic fighting over dead loved one’s belongings. A video, including as much detail as possible, would be easier than typing it all up. And could be saved on a cloud, so it couldn’t be destroyed. It would also be one last chance for loved ones to hear your voice…

My two cents….. Probably worth less though…..

KNOWITALL's avatar

My husband and I have not, but we need to. It drains my energy just to think about it tbh.

BellaB's avatar

I had it all sorted at one point but so much has changed that I’m going to have to start over.

Disconcerting when your proposed heirs die before you do.

I’ve got the energy drain thoughts as well @KNOWITALL

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks for all suggestions. I’m working on it. My husband and I made our own lists and merged them, and then I cross-checked against the NIH one here: Getting Your Affairs in Order. It needed some tuning for our specific case, but it was pretty comprehensive and helpful.

Interestingly, once I got past some initial squeamishness and built the list into a table in a Word document, it became less of a meditation on mortality and more of an exercise of filling in the blanks. Not so threatening after all.

One thing I put on my list was “things to dispose of without looking.” I may have, for example, a few sentimental keepsakes and photos that aren’t anyone else’s business. I hope I can trust my husband to respect mine; I know I will respect his.

I’ll be putting my Fluther account and password on the list so someone can let you guys know when I really, really, really won’t be back. With any luck, though, that won’t be too soon.

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