Old Man Touching his Chin with his Index Finger and Holding a Laptop


Gregory S. DuPont March 14, 2019

Suppose you are in the middle of your workday and you receive an urgent telephone call from the local hospital. The caller informs you that your elderly, widowed father has been in a serious accident and lies unconscious in the emergency room. Upon arriving at the hospital, you are immediately asked for the name of his health insurer and his policy identification number. Not only do you not know this information, but from there the situation may only get worse.

If, tragically, your father does not recover from the accident, you could easily find yourself overwhelmed by all the details you must address. Perhaps 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 practical, everyday matters. Now, in your grief, it can become even more difficult to tackle the job of identifying and gathering important financial records and documents.

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common. To avoid leaving your loved ones in this difficult situation, consider taking time now to prepare an inventory of pertinent financial information. Update it regularly as changes occur and let family members or other trusted associates know where it 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 can help provide a starting point for this task:

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

  • Financial Contacts. List, at a minimum, the names of your lawyer, accountant, financial professional, and insurance agent, as well as their contact information.

  • Records of Assets, Liabilities, and Account Numbers. Identify all financial assets, including bank accounts, credit cards, and company benefits along with relevant identifying numbers. Also, note any outstanding liabilities, including mortgages and loans.

  • 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, a regularly updated inventory of vital financial information can help make this process less trying for those you leave behind.