There are an endless amount of important documents they say every family should have completed, signed and readily available in case of an emergency. Some call it estate planning, others call it end-of-life planning, but certain things do need to be in place to ensure your family isn’t put in an even worse position if something were to happen to you.
The complete list of everything you need to gather is long and daunting and many of us don’t get around to getting it all together before a crisis hits and it’s too late. So here is a list of the most important documents you should have, in one place, in order of their importance, to get you going. You can start checking off items from the list as you gather each file or paper you need, and if you make it to the bottom without having to do too much digging through old boxes and cabinets, good for you!
You can look at the list below, or download it to check off what you have and what you want to work on getting together next.
Important Documents Checklist:
☐ Living Will – This document explains what medical treatments you do and do not wish to have performed should you experience a medical emergency and are unable to communicate, for example in the case of a coma.
☐ Last Will and Testament – This outlines what you want to happen to your estate after you die by identifying the people and organizations you want to inherit your wealth and possessions.
☐ Power of Attorney – This is needed if you are seriously injured or ill, it gives the person you name the power to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf.
☐ Health Care Proxy – This gives the person you name the legal power to make your medical decisions, allowing them to carry out your wishes for you.
☐ Life insurance policy – This shows what medical and other expenses are covered as well as what your family would receive if something happened to you.
☐ House deed – This is legal proof showing you own your property, include your mortgage information too so no payments are missed during the chaos of illness or death.
☐ List of bank accounts – Your family will need this information if something happens to you and they need to pay medical bills or funeral expenses.
☐ List of investments – It can be extremely difficult for a spouse or family member to find this information if you’re not around to guide them, make sure they have everything they need to continue keeping your investment profile up to date.
☐ List of credit cards – List out all of your credit cards with the card number and account login information so payments can be made as needed or the cards can be cancelled.
☐ Stock certificates – Certificates of ownership are important to prove what is yours and to make up the complete list of what should be passed down to your heirs.
☐ List of professionals – Include all the pro’s you work with, for example financial advisor, insurance broker, accountant, lawyer, etc. so your family knows who to turn to when they have questions about your investments and estate.
☐ Passwords – All of your bank account, email, social media, etc. passwords (and usernames) should be in one place so your family has the access they need when you pass on.
☐ Marriage license – This will save your spouse the trouble of digging around when they are already in a time of panic and grief.
So, how did you do? Don’t give up if you only have a few of these items so far! If you work on getting a new document ready every month, you’ll have all the basics together by the end of the the year which is a great start.