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Why You Need a Financial & Estate Organizer – and What to Put in It

30 August 2023

A friend of mine told me a story about her mother’s death. Her father had died the year before. While she and her siblings were still reeling from the one-two punch of grief, they found her mother’s financial and estate documents completely unorganized, anywhere but not everywhere. Some stock certificates were unlocatable and had to be replaced. Fortunately, the wills were with the parents’ attorney, but dealing with an estate, even a relatively small one, in utter disarray was a nightmare for the heirs – one which took years to resolve.

Don’t let this happen to your loved ones. Get all your estate ducks in a row on the same pond.

Key to leaving your estate organized is – a financial and estate organizer! With labeled sections and tabs within the sections, this can be a paper copy or an electronic copy.

In your organizer you can keep:

  • Tables of contents for each section
  • Wills
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage (and divorce) certificates
  • Property deeds
  • Automobile titles
  • Financial account statements (bank, investment, retirement)
  • Digital asset statements
  • Life and disability insurance policies
  • Loan and/or mortgage documents
  • Personal financial statements (a listing of all assets and liabilities)
  • Any licenses or permits (including but not limited to driver’s licenses)
  • Copies of passports
  • A list of electronic devices
  • Burial and service instructions
  • IRA and pension beneficiary designations

Do not include a list of passwords for your online accounts – these change frequently. Instead, we recommend you store your online account passwords in a secure cloud password site such as Pass Portal – share with your significant other and where to find them and give him or her your log-in credentials to that site.

A financial and estate organizer, properly prepared and maintained, will save you headaches as well as sparing your heirs the nightmare my friend went through. You will have your financial and estate picture at your fingertips, and your loved ones will also, when the time comes for them to deal with your loss.

Let your financial and estate advisor help you prepare both physical and electronic organizers. S/he will know what needs to go into them – and let him or her keep a copy themselves. Maybe another copy for your estate attorney.

Store your physical organizer in a secure location, maybe a lockbox – share this location with one or two trusted loved ones. Store your electronic organizer within a secure onsite environment or on a secure computer. Make sure your loved ones know your computer passwords!

Make sure to keep your organizer updated – your financial advisor should remind you of this periodically. If you update your will or your powers of attorney, make sure the new one(s) gets into the organizer, and the old one(s) gets destroyed. If you take out a new life insurance policy, add it to your organizer, and update the table of contents for that section to take note of it.

Estate planning is a deeply personal matter – and, for many, a daunting prospect. We understand this. Come consult with our advisors, and let our caring, empathetic experts guide you through the process.

Please click here to email us directly – let us know how we can help you.

Until next time –



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