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Plan For The Unexpected – Organize Your Records

The basis for this article is a workbook by Pauper Press entitled 'I’m Dead, Now What?' which was gifted to me by John H. Wells.

John is an Investment Advisor/Portfolio Manager/Vice President of Wells on Wealth Group which is located in Edmonton, Alberta. Wells on Wealth Group is part of TD Wealth Private Investment Advice, a division of TD Waterhouse Canada Inc.. TD Waterhouse Canada Inc. is a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

This book is widely available through Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, and other book stores. It is well worth the approximate cost of CDN $20!

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Case #1

Joan has been married to Steve for 10 years and has been the primary bread winner as Steve has put his career on hold so he can stay at home to raise their daughter (age 5) and son (age 3).

Joan has managed all the family finances. This includes paying all the bills and making all the investment decisions. Steve has little interest in these responsibilities and is quite content to let Joan manage everything.

One evening on the way home from work, Joan is involved in a car accident and sustains serious injuries. While she is expected to survive, she is expected to remain in the hospital for an extended period and even upon release from the hospital, it is highly unlikely she will make a full recovery.

Case #2

Peter and Liz have one 20 year old daughter (Julia). Julia is attending university several hundred kilometers from home and only returns home for the summer months and holidays.

Peter and Liz are both retired and are enjoying life, spending much of their time travelling. One evening while returning from a road trip, Peter and Liz are involved in a car accident and pass away.

Case #3

Mary resides in one area of the country with her husband and children. Her father passed away several years ago and now her aging mother resides in a seniors’ residence several hundred kilometers from where Mary resides. Mary has suggested that her mother be relocated to a senior’s residence closer to Mary but her mother is adamant she wants to remain where she currently resides.

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A Little Planning Goes Long Way

Nobody wants to go through circumstances similar to those reflected above. The reality is, however, that we cannot control the future. This is why it is best to get your financial affairs in order NOW. Spoken from experience, planning for the unexpected will make a huge difference in the event of an emergency.

I can assure you it is extremely difficult and time consuming to handle the affairs for someone who is no longer in a position to do so themselves. The same would apply for your loved ones if something were to happen to you and you are the only family member with knowledge of many of your family’s Personal and Financial affairs.

Given the above, I have compiled a list of things for which you should have details BEFORE you really need them. This list likely includes/excludes items that are relevant to you so please modify the list to suit your personal circumstances; this lengthy list is merely a guide.

Compiling this information can be a daunting task especially if you need to create this for you/your family and for aging parents. I, therefore, highly recommend that this be a work in progress. Completing this all at once is overwhelming.

In order to reduce my workload by having to type much of the information called for in the following list and to avoid the risk of transposition errors, I have:

  • Instructed my Executor to access all online banking platforms and have provided the appropriate login information. This way there will be access to the most recent balances and account numbers and historical activity will be readily available;

Keep in mind that if assets are held in your name only, your accounts and online banking platforms will be frozen once the bank or credit union is notified of your death. It is, therefore, important to ensure a relatively current copy of what is reported online is retained.

  • Retained images of utility bills, credit card statements, and all insurance policies. In essence, I have images of actual statements/documents where pdf documents or access to online statements are unavailable; I literally lined up all paper based documents and took pictures with my cell phone.

What Should Be Documented

While you can certainly create a paper based document which reflects all the details for the line items reflected below, I highly recommend you create a document which can easily be amended as amendments will be required over time.

I also strongly recommend that you revisit this document at least once a year to ensure all records are kept current.

Having these records on a laptop/computer is wonderful but of little use if your laptop/computer crashes. This is why I suggest you back up all information on a stick which is safely retained in your house and another stick which is stored in your safety deposit box.

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The following details should be recorded for you/spouse/partner.

Personal Records

  • Full legal name and maiden name if applicable;
  • Address of Legal Residence;
  • All Phone Numbers;
  • Date and Place of Birth;
  • Social Insurance Number (Canada) or Social Security Number (US);
  • Driver’s license details and location;
  • Health Card details and location;
  • Passport details and location;
  • Marriage, divorce, citizenship, and adoption records and location;
  • If these records are retained in a safety deposit box at a financial institution, be sure to record the address of the financial institution, the box and key numbers, and where the primary and backup keys are retained;
  • Marital status;
  • Spouse’s/ Former Spouse’s name;
  • Child’s Name(s) and contact information;
  • Grandchild’s Name(s) and contact information;
  • Sibling’s name(s) and contact information;
  • Father’s name and birthplace and contact information;
  • Mother’s name/maiden name and birthplace and contact information;
  • Grandfather/grandmother name(s) and contact information;
  • Education and military records;
  • Memberships in groups and awards received;
  • Contact information for close friends and relatives;
  • Location of Power of Attorney (Health), Power of Attorney (Wealth) and Wills which bear original signatures. Also stipulate where a backup original copy is retained;
  • Funeral arrangements – record any prepaid funeral arrangement details or if none exist you may wish to record what type of funeral arrangements you desire.

Key Contact Information

  • Name and contact information for barrister and solicitor;
  • Name and contact information for accountant;
  • Name and contact information for tax preparer;
  • Names and contact information for financial advisor(s);
  • Names and contact information for insurance agent;
  • Name and phone number of religious contact.

Medical Records

  • Names and phone numbers of all health care providers (general practitioner and specialists);
  • Medications taken regularly. This should be updated no less than at least annually;
  • Location of Do Not Resuscitate order;
  • Organ donation/anatomical gift information;
  • Blood type;
  • Medical conditions;
  • Medication;
  • Allergies and reactions;
  • Preferred hospital with location/contact information;
  • Preferred pharmacy with location/contact information;
  • Health insurance information;
  • Location of health insurance card.

Financial Records

Employment

  • Employer’s Name;
  • Details of employment which would include the contact information for the Human Resources Department and immediate reporting officer;
  • Sources of employment income;
  • Sources of other income (IRAs, 401k, RRSP, RRIF, TFSA, Annuity, Insurance Policies, etc.);
  • A record of the medical, dental, long-term disability, life insurance, etc. coverage through the employer should be retained;
  • Pension Plan details as per most recent Pension Plan statement and contact information for Pension Plan Department.

Personal Insurance

  • If there are any Critical Illness, Long-Term Disability, Term and/or Whole Life Insurance policies which have been purchased outside work, record the name of the insurance companies, policy numbers, amount, type of insurance as well as any contact details for insurance agents/brokers.

Home and Auto Insurance

  • Retain a copy of the most current home and auto insurance policies and insurance policies for all other insured assets.

Assets

  • Record the details of all assets. This would include the institutions with which the assets are held as well as ALL bank and investment account numbers. Refer to note under ‘A Little Planning Goes A Long Way’ wherein I recommend you record all logon IDs and passwords for all online banking platforms;
  • Record the account number for all bill payments and include a link to the website for each utility company together with the appropriate logon ID and password. This would include property taxes, all utilities, credit cards, loans, etc.;
  • Details of investments which are managed through investment advisors, brokers should be recorded together with the contact information for these parties;
  • If money is owing to you, record who owes what and the terms of the loan advances. Be sure to indicate where the original loan documentation is filed.

Real Estate

  • Location of original deed of trust for principal residence and all rental properties;
  • If you own multiple properties (principal residence, cottage, residential, commercial, and industrial rental properties) be sure to record the address(es), ownership details, location of legal documents and keys, contact information for tenants, contact information for any property manager(s), contact information for real estate agent/broker, home security company contact information;
  • Record the account number for all bill payments and include a link to the website for each utility company together with the appropriate logon ID and password. This would include property taxes and all utilities.
  • Details for any encumbrances should be recorded for each property.

Vehicles, Boats, Motorcycles, Etc.

  • Location of asset(s) and title to asset(s). Include the Year, Make, Model, Color, vehicle registration number and any other pertinent information that describes the asset(s);
  • Location of keys.

Liabilities

  • Record the details of all liability related account numbers, the terms of the liabilities, and each institution/individual to which the liabilities are owed. This would include the frequency of the payments and the amount of any recurring payments. Examples of liabilities include, but are not restricted to: credit cards, lines of credit, mortgages, loans/leases, etc..

Business

  • Record details of any business/businesses you own. Include location, landlord, business partners or other information for key contacts, location of keys to premise(s) and lease agreement(s);
  • Contact information for the accountant, barrister and solicitor, insurance agent/broker, and bank contact should also be included;
  • Details of company website and other business social media sites should be recorded.

Taxes

  • If you are a Canadian resident and have subscribed to Canada Revenue Agency’s Online reporting service, include the logon ID and password for this service (if you do not file a Canadian tax return then do the same thing for the country in which you must file your tax returns);
  • If tax returns are submitted online, record all login details for the online platform;
  • Retain copies of at least the 4 most recent annual tax returns.

Miscellaneous

  • Details of any heirlooms and personal effects of significance;
  • Location of firearms and pertinent registration and permit information;
  • Location of storage unit(s) which would include the name of the storage company, contact information, unit number(s), and location of key(s);
  • If you support any charities be sure to record the charity name and contact information;
  • Subscriptions and membership – contact information;
  • Record your Personal Wishes or Your Final Words.

Pets

  • Pet Name(s)
  • Description/age
  • License/ID Information
  • Veterinarian contact information
  • Contact information as to who will take care of pets and any special instructions

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I recognize putting together this list is a daunting undertaking. Some readers may procrastinate and will likely never start this exercise. Spoken from personal experience, you do NOT want to be scrambling to obtain all this information when you really need it.

Start working on your list today. It will take time to compile but that’s okay. Even if you have a partially completed list, it is better than no list at all.

Thanks for reading!

Note: I sincerely appreciate the time you took to read this article. Please send any feedback, corrections, or questions to charles@financialfreedomisajourney.com

Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of your individual circumstances and am not providing individualized advice or recommendations. I encourage you not to make any investment decision without conducting your own research and due diligence. You should also consult your financial advisor about your specific situation.

I wrote this article myself and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it and have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

By |March 17th, 2018|Estate Planning|Comments Off on Plan For The Unexpected – Organize Your Records

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