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"Death" Folder ideas?

Home Estate Planning "Death" Folder ideas?

  • OSUDent OSUDent 
    Participant
    Status: Dentist
    Posts: 42
    Joined: 03/19/2016

    Sorry for the strange title, didn’t quite know how else to phrase it though.

     

    What I’d like to do is set up a folder for my wife (or kids, whoever is left to succeed me) that includes relevant information for how to claim life insurance benefits, social security, and generally just be able to “get” to my 401k, other investments, etc. after I die. My wife isn’t the most financially savvy person on Earth (not terrible, but just doesn’t have a great interest in the subject), so the clearer I can spell this stuff out for her, the easier it would make it. Obviously I’d be keeping this folder in a locked safe, where only she and the kids know about it.

     

    My question is, what all else should be included in this? I’ve covered the basic stuff, but do you guys have any other ideas on what all should be in it? Or is this just a crazy, OCD idea that is unnecessary?

    #21121 Reply
    jfoxcpacfp jfoxcpacfp 
    Moderator
    Status: Financial Advisor, Accountant, Small Business Owner
    Posts: 7796
    Joined: 01/09/2016

    Sorry for the strange title, didn’t quite know how else to phrase it though.

     

    What I’d like to do is set up a folder for my wife (or kids, whoever is left to succeed me) that includes relevant information for how to claim life insurance benefits, social security, and generally just be able to “get” to my 401k, other investments, etc. after I die. My wife isn’t the most financially savvy person on Earth (not terrible, but just doesn’t have a great interest in the subject), so the clearer I can spell this stuff out for her, the easier it would make it. Obviously I’d be keeping this folder in a locked safe, where only she and the kids know about it.

     

    My question is, what all else should be included in this? I’ve covered the basic stuff, but do you guys have any other ideas on what all should be in it? Or is this just a crazy, OCD idea that is unnecessary?

    Click to expand…

    Not a crazy idea, and one that everyone with a family should consider. What you are describing is called a “Letter of Instruction”. It is an addendum to the Last Will and Testament (not a part of the legal document) and can also include information about preferences on burial, funeral service, and more. See the example I am uploading. I believe you would also benefit from the Financial Emergency Kit, which you can download for free (actually, for the price of your first name and email address) on our website. You’ll get a prompt when you go to our site and just enter your info. It is a convenient way to organize all of the information you need in case of death, disaster, or other loss. My business partner developed it and, imho, it’s a wonderful resource.

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    Johanna Fox Turner, CPA, CFP, Fox Wealth Mgmt & Fox CPAs ~
    http://www.fox-cpas.com/for-doctors-only ~ [email protected]

    #21123 Reply
    Liked by Docbeans
    Avatar G 
    Participant
    Status: Physician, Small Business Owner
    Posts: 1662
    Joined: 01/08/2016

    My public library carries nolo books/software that go through this.  I think I found it on the willmaker book (comes with CD).  You can download the form onto your computer and fill it out, change it when you need to.

    #21159 Reply
    Avatar AlexxT 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 897
    Joined: 01/13/2016

    There are many places where you can find check lists like that, or you can make your own.

    You can download this : http://www.erikdewey.com/bigbookmkII.pdf ,  or buy it in book form.

    Merrill Lynch has this :   Organizing your financial life:       https://olui2.fs.ml.com/Publish/Content/application/pdf/GWMOL/Essential_Documents_-_321732PM.pdf

    There’s a website that deals with this as well  gyst.com

    I have this information in a binder with my will and trust.  I also have a digital copy of everything, password protected, on a thumb drive, that I gave to a close relative, for backup.

    Be sure to include a list of passwords for email accounts, bank accounts, etc.

    Include a list of recurring automatic payments from bank accounts, especially things like subscriptions and memberships that will be paid forever unless cancelled.  Also include recurring payments that should continue (eg phone service) if paid from your credit cards, so they don’t get cancelled along with your cards.

    I included several letters of instruction:  funeral instruction, instructions for my spouse, for my children, for guardians for my children, for the financial institution that will act as successor trustee if needed.   Lists of assets, list of items that are of value that might be overlooked (eg antiques, collectibles ) and where to sell them.

    I keep my most recent tax return in that binder as well, along with recent statements from each of my accounts.

    I get all my statements and bills via mail to make sure that surviving family will find all my assets and bills.

    I also did a video tour of the house and all valuables, which is useful for insurance purposes as well as for heirs.

    Of course, all the above needs to be updated every so often, but if you keep up with it , it shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes a year.  I  have separate files for each topic, update each as needed, and then print them out and add to the binder and update the master thumb drives as needed.

    #21216 Reply
    Liked by Docbeans
    OSUDent OSUDent 
    Participant
    Status: Dentist
    Posts: 42
    Joined: 03/19/2016

    Some great ideas guys. Great resources too, I’ll definitely be using those. Question though: is this something you guys would keep in your home, obviously in a bolted, water and fireproof safe, or is this more of a safe deposit box kind of thing?

    #21299 Reply
    Avatar AlexxT 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 897
    Joined: 01/13/2016
    is this something you guys would keep in your home, obviously in a bolted, water and fireproof safe, or is this more of a safe deposit box kind of thing?

    Click to expand…

    You never want your will and trust documents in a safe deposit box, because then you can end up in the ultimate Catch-22 situation:  The bank won’t let your executor into your safe deposit box without seeing the original will, and the will is in the safe deposit box.

    I’m not entirely satisfied with my current arrangement, but for now, I have my will and trust documents, along with my tax return and account statements, in a binder on a shelf.  The only sensitive information that’s readily available from those documents are a list of assets and my social security number.  That number is probably accessible elsewhere if someone really wants to find it.  I know that it’s already been hacked several times, because I have received notices from several companies to that effect, including the IRS, although I have had no problems as a result.

    I have a letter of instructions at the front with the names and phone numbers of my accountant and attorney, and family members.   The more detailed information and more letters of instruction are on a password-protected thumb drive,  for which my wife has the password.  A close relative has another copy of the thumb drive and the password.

    I think that the odds of my being robbed are much lower than the chance that I will die, so I’m more worried about the latter than the former.  If I am robbed, I doubt that the thieves will be very interested in paperwork.  It’s usually a quick smash and grab.

    In any case, we have to balance safety with accessibility.

    #21303 Reply
    jfoxcpacfp jfoxcpacfp 
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    Earnest refinancing bonus

    Some great ideas guys. Great resources too, I’ll definitely be using those. Question though: is this something you guys would keep in your home, obviously in a bolted, water and fireproof safe, or is this more of a safe deposit box kind of thing?

    Click to expand…

    AlexxT is correct, will must be accessible. I recommend a copy of your will and life insurance policies at home in safe, originals in safety deposit box and, of course, make sure your Executor and alternate Executor know who your attorney and agents are because (s)he will have a copy, too.

    For all information stored online, the only important piece of information is your password. of course, be sure to back up and do not rely on your C-drive never to crash. I recommend one of the low-cost backup services such as Carbonite or Barracuda (current reviews for those and more here and here). btw, I’m not a big fan of thumb drives today because they can crash, you have to update whenever something changes (a hassle plus not always done), they can be lost, etc.

    Anything that you can easily duplicate is ok to keep at home for convenience purposes. For example, your tax returns should all be online or available from your CPA/EA, your agent can duplicate life insurance policies, etc.

    Johanna Fox Turner, CPA, CFP, Fox Wealth Mgmt & Fox CPAs ~
    http://www.fox-cpas.com/for-doctors-only ~ [email protected]

    #21307 Reply
    Avatar AlexxT 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 897
    Joined: 01/13/2016

    It looks like safe deposit access rules after death vary from state to state.  In some states, safe deposit boxes are sealed after death and require a court order.  In other states, a copy of the will giving control to the executor is enough to allow the executor to get access.

    You should probably check with the  attorney who prepares your will and trust documents and get their advice.

    By the way, per my attorney:  Don’t let your attorney hold the original.  If they are holding  the original, it may not be accessible when you need it.

    Most attorney’s will have retired before you die, and if still in practice,won’t remember the details of your trust, so you will not be at any disadvantage having a new attorney review the documents and  handle the new trust documents.

    I have two backup hard drives and use a free ware program (Bvckup 2)  to back up my hard drives daily.  Once every few weeks I take one of the drives to the bank and switch it for a drive I keep in the safe deposit box.  That way I have a backup at home as well as one off-premises.  I don’t trust the cloud to be either reliable or secure.

    #21316 Reply
    Avatar PNWskindoc 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 99
    Joined: 01/10/2016

    Sort of off-topic, but if my plan in the even that I die is to have my wife invest all of our money with a Vanguard personal advisor (30bp), do you think it’s worthwhile to transfer all of my retirement accounts from other brokerages (i.e my current Roth IRA is with TD Ameritrade) into Vanguard? I currently invest primarily in Vanguard ETFs but I do have a few ishare ETFs that are offered commission free with TD ameritrade but not with Vanguard.

    #21449 Reply
    hatton1 hatton1 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 3031
    Joined: 01/11/2016
    alpha investing

    I have some non-Vanguard assets held at Vanguard.  I plan to use the Personal Advisor Services when I feel my competency is starting to slip.

    #21453 Reply

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