In our article “A Will Is Not Enough”, we mentioned the importance of specificity in bequests and suggested an “instruction book” containing the names of friends and others (such as business associates) that should be contacted when you pass on.
We did not, however, point out that the instruction book should also specify the locations of all significant assets and the names and addresses of people and organizations they should contact.
Therefore, in this follow-up article we list some of the additional items that should be included:
Location of your will. It’s best not to leave the only copy in a safe deposit box, because depending on the circumstances of your passing, the box might be sealed by the authorities. Consider leaving the will with a trusted friend, perhaps the executor;
> Location of your Advance Directive (Living Will);
> Your wishes regarding a funeral and disposition of your body;
> Information about any pre-death funeral arrangements;
> If there is any organization that will provide assistance to your survivors, or subsidize funeral-related expenses, in the event of your death (for instance, a union or the military): The names, addresses and phone numbers of the organizations;
> Location of house deed, mortgage, and mortgage satisfaction documents;
> Location of all bank books, CDs, stocks and bonds; Name and address of your investment advisor (who might be a stock broker) and anyone with whom you invest money;
> Location of divorce and separation documents;
> Location of vehicle titles;
> Location of insurance policies; Name of your insurance agent(s);
> Location of Social Security card, military discharge papers;
> Location of safe deposit box, and a list of the contents;
> Location(s) of important keys such as safe deposit box key;
> Location of documents related to any businesses, real estate or other enterprises in which you have a financial interest;
> Location of your tax returns; The name of your tax preparer;
> Location of your burial plot deed; Location of the burial plot;
> Location of any hidden cash (a ‘cache of cash’);
> The name, address and phone number of your will’s designated executor(s);
> If you have granted a Power of Attorney: The name, address and phone number of your guardian;
> A list organizations (with phone numbers) to call concerning recurring expenses such as electricity, gas, phone, cable TV, Internet, club and gym dues, auto loan or lease obligations, installment loans, maintenance contracts on appliances et al, credit cards;
> A list of people (with addresses and phone numbers) who owe you money; Location of related documents;
> If you are still employed, the name and address of your employer and the phone number of your immediate supervisor;
A list of people and organizations (with phone numbers) to whom you owe money;
> Information about any inheritances due you;
> Information about all income sources (pensions, trusts, Social Security, etc.);
> A list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of family members and close friends;
> Computer passwords;
> IDs and passwords for E-mail and for password-controlled access to Web sites;
It should also be mentioned here, that during your life a copy of the above information should also be with your Advance Directive/Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney.
One of two trusted family members or friends should be aware of the location of the list. The person(s) you specify in those documents should have copies as well, although you should remove passwords and PINs from their copies.
The above list is, believe it or not, exhaustive. We have a form that lists information in excruciating detail; you might want to get a copy and fill in whatever portions are appropriate. A copy can be obtained in our office, or by mail if you send a stamped, self-addressed envelope with your request. (Put enough postage on the envelope for two ounces, which is 60˘ as of this writing.) Unfortunately, we have to pass the reproduction cost on to you. At 5˘ per page, that amounts to 70˘ per copy for the fourteen page form.
Our thanks to George Morris for the document and
additional suggestions that served as the basis
of this article.