Teddy Bear in a Business Suitcase


Gregory S. DuPont Oct. 29, 2018

Suppose, during the middle of the workday, you receive an urgent phone call. It is the local hospital informing you that your elderly, widowed father has been the victim of a serious car accident and lies unconscious in the emergency room. When you arrive at the hospital, you are asked, among other information, for the name of your father’s health insurer and his policy identification number. Not only are you unsure of this information, but from there the situation only gets worse.

Unfortunately, your father dies as a result of the accident. After the initial shock, your mind starts racing through all the details you’ll need to take care of. At this time, you realize you don’t know any of your father’s financial particulars, including the numbers of his bank accounts and insurance policies, whether or not he has left a will, and the location of key documents.

What will you do? Where will you begin? The loss of a loved one can make it difficult to cope with even normal, everyday matters. Now, while you are grieving, it will be even harder to tackle the difficult job of identifying and gathering important financial records and documents.

Unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon. To avoid leaving your loved ones in this difficult situation, consider taking the time to prepare an inventory of your pertinent financial information. Update it regularly as changes occur and let your family members or other trusted associates know where this list can be found. This record will help those who must manage your financial affairs after your death carry on smoothly and without undue delay.

What Should You Include?

The following information will give you a good start on what to record:

  • Basic Data. This should include your full name, maiden name, date of birth, and Social Security number.

  • Financial Contacts. List the names of your lawyer, accountant, insurance agent, and other financial representatives, along with their contact information.

  • Financial Assets, Liabilities, and Account Numbers. Identify all financial assets, including bank accounts, insurance policies, investments, and company benefits, along with relevant identifying numbers. Also, note any outstanding liabilities, such as mortgages, loans, and credit card debt.

  • Location of Key Documents. Finally, identify the location of your will, any trust documents, tax returns, and insurance policies.

Handling the death of a loved one is never easy. However, an updated inventory of vital financial information can help you make this process easier for those you leave behind.