Now is the time of year when many of us start thinking about what we are going to give our loved ones this holiday season. Preparing an organized reference document outlining your personal financial life might be the best gift you ever give and after reading this article you will be well on your way to doing just that.
As a Certified Financial Planner, I often hear the frustrations that children experience as they try to figure out their parents’ financial world, either to help while parents are alive or to settle an estate after they pass. Imagine what it would be like walking into a loved one’s home and trying to figure out even the most basic financial tasks. Fortunately, much of your children’s anxiety can be avoided by simply documenting an inventory of your financial and everyday life. Start by creating a document listing your “Who’s”, “What’s” and “Where’s”.
WHO? Who are the players on your financial team and how can family members easily contact them? Who is the accountant who prepares your income taxes? Who is your insurance agent? Who is the attorney or the law office that prepared your will or trust? Who is the financial advisor managing your investments and finances? Who is the Human Resources contact at work if you are still working? Who is the banker or bank you use?
WHAT? What investment accounts do you own? Do you own life insurance policies? How about long-term care insurance policies? What savings bonds do you own? Are there collectibles, coins, physical gold or silver? Did you prepare a will or trust or both? Are there any online only accounts they need to be aware of? What about credit cards, loans, mortgages, or other loans? Anything financially important to you should be included on your “What” list.
WHERE? Where are your “What’s”? It is all well and good to have an extensive list of financial items but if no one can find them then a list alone, although helpful, isn’t a perfect solution.
The most important “Where” is letting your loved ones know that your organized document exists and where to find it. That said, your loved ones do not necessarily need to know what is on your list if you want to keep things private for the time being; they just need to know how to access it when the time comes. You will want to keep your list in a safe and secure location or with a trusted advisor so that your information is not easily stolen or compromised.
If you need some help, our offices at Allied Financial Partners have created an electronic “Estate Reference Workbook” which goes above and beyond organizing your financial life. It also includes additional sections to help your loved ones handle other aspects of your life should the need arise. We are happy to share this tool with anyone who is interested so if you would like a copy, please e-mail me at email@example.com and I will forward one to you. Experience has taught me that time spent documenting and organizing your financial world for your family and friends is the best gift you can give them this holiday season.
Jason’s office is located at 55-57 Grove Street in Cooperstown, NY 13326, (607) 282-4161. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc. Allied Financial Services, Inc. and Securities America are separate companies.