You’re Gonna Die, Part 2

The Grim Reaper

The Grim Reaper (Photo credit: Helico)

You know that, at some point, you’re going to shuffle off of this mortal coil.

You will die.

Hopefully, you’ll have lived your life is such a way that the even won’t be easy for your heirs, but you can do a bit to make the process less painful for them.   Do you want them gutting your house trying to find out if you have a will, or does the idea of a treasure hunt for a life insurance policy make you smile?

Assuming you don’t intend to sit in the afterlife giggling about how difficult you’ve made life for your offspring, the first thing you need to do is find a spot to put your important paperwork.    This should, ideally, be a fireproof safe, which you can get for under $50.  You’re looking for something big enough to hold the things that matter, while being able to withstand a bit of fire, in case the part of “Grim Reaper” is being played by an arsonist.

The next thing you need to do is put your important papers in the safe.  Seriously, this beats both filing your insurance papers in a telephone book stacked in the corner and wrapping an envelope full of cash in a 10 year old newspaper and storing it with your recycling.   It’s also superior to tucking an insurance policy in a coupon mailer and losing it the cracks of a chair.*

Important papers include:

  • Your will
  • Life insurance policies, including accidental death policies
  • Bank account information, but don’t forget to remove these if you close an account
  • Safe deposit box information
  • Car titles and lien releases, if applicable
  • The deed to your house
  • Investment accounts
  • Retirement accounts

Things that are not important papers for your heirs:

  • The last 30 years of your monthly gas bill
  • The last 30 years of your electric bill
  • Home Shopping Network receipts
  • Child support filings for your 33 year old daughter who has 3 kids of her own
  • Coupon mailers
  • Credit card offers
  • 10 year old angry letters to the police department about that guy in the silver car who ran a stop sign in the grocery store parking lot

The final thing you need to do to make this all work is tell someone about it.  Don’t hope somebody will find a book that has “In case of death, my will is here” scrawled inside the cover, buried in your kitchen.  Really.   And if that is your plan, don’t move the will later, without updating the book.

Your homework over the weekend is to gather up your important papers and put them in a box.  Then tell someone about the box.

*I wish I was making this up.

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    1. Holy crap. In a chair? I knew you had to excavate, but that is insane. I am really glad you didn’t accidentally throw any of the important stuff out! Good luck with anything you have left. 🙁

    2. I really need to do all of this but it is so hard to do it when I’m so young. I know anything could happen though so maybe I’ll do this sometime soon…

    3. Being in late 20’s, these things are still not in my mind. While I do have life insurance, I have bought it because of our family relationship with the insurance seller.

      Well, the reason why I don’t worry much about these paper works, bank accounts and etc is the my close relationship with my husband. We have a joint account and very open in our finances. The worst case would be if we die at the same time…

      Best regards,

    4. I’m 40 and still not thinking about this yet. However, we do have all our life insurance policies in one place. I guess we need to start working on organizing these things. 😉

    5. Really good suggestions. I would add something to the list: a master list of all your online passwords, especially if you have some online only financial accounts. It can be a real hassle to get online entities to give you control of a bank or investment account.

      I think our digital afterlife is only beginning to be understood.

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