Be prepared ahead of time with this list of important documents and information needed when there is a death. Loss of a loved one is traumatic. Self-preparation can help reduce the stress for loved ones during this difficult time.
1. Very Important Preparations:
- Inform estate executor or family member where they can find your important documents.
a) Will or Living Trust
b) Birth Certificate
c) DD-214 and other Military Papers
d) Social Security Card
e) Divorce Decree(s) (if applicable)
f) Marriage Certificate,
- Even if you have a Will or Living Trust, discuss your wishes with the executor or family member ahead of time for the disbursement of property, pets, finances, etc. Put this discussion in writing and have it signed and notarized, if possible.
- Take care of your funeral and burial arrangements in advance. After you die is not the best time to take care of the details of burial and will add more stress on your loved ones. Decide beforehand if there will be a funeral, Calibration of Life, small reception, full burial, or cremation.
- Let a family member know the lactation of your current financial statements. This includes bank accounts, income records from all sources, investment and retirement accounts, other assets, credit card accounts, past 4 or 5 years of tax records, and other financial accounts.
- A family member or the executor will need to inform the social security office when you pass away so they can stop any future social security payments. This is also important if your spouse or child can qualify for a Social Security Death Benefit? A married child or spouse may qualify for a death benefit from the Social Security Administration. Call your local social security office to find out.
- Inform estate executor or family member where they can find your important asset and liability records. Mortgage or rental documents, deeds for property, last home appraisal, HUD statements from home purchase and each refinances, receipts for home improvements, vehicle title, outstanding bills such as utilities, phone bills, medical payments, real estate taxes, outstanding loans, subscriptions, or memberships., and any other information related to current assets.
- Do you serve on any boards or volunteer committees? Inform estate executor or family member of all organizations you are involved with and provide phone numbers of key people who you serve with in these organizations?
- If you are involved in any legal disputes inform estate executor or family member of them and provide a limited power of attorney for these matters.
- Inform estate executor or family member where they can find all of your health records and insurance policies.
- Inform estate executor or family member if want to be an organ donor.
- Provide an up-to-date list of all important phone numbers so that your family members will not have to search these numbers out after your passing.
2. Important Recommendations:
- It is recommend that you buy a portable fireproof box, if you don’t already have one; it should be large enough to hold files and a few valuables, but not so large that you can’t easily carry it out if you have a fire. Following are some of the items that you should keep in the box:
a) List of insurance policies, bank accounts and contact information
b) List of debt obligations, due dates, and contact information
c) Your family’s passports, birth certificates, and DD-214’s
d) List of medications, prescription numbers, List doctors and pharmacies that you currently use.
e) Copy of durable power of attorney, living wills, and healthcare proxies – yours and all those of which you are attorney-in-fact or healthcare surrogate
f) Copy of each of your wills and all those of which you are the executor
g) Safety deposit box keys
h) List of investment, retirement, and bank accounts, with all contact information
i) Your original Social Security card (when you’re not using it)
3. Final Preparations:
- Finally, you should keep a true copy of this checklist in your portable fireproof box. As you can see, much of the information on the list above is already called for elsewhere in the checklist. Keeping track of your vital information should be made as simple as possible. Don’t make it any harder than it has to be.
- Also, keep the original copy of this checklist with your will so that your executor or personal family member representative has access to both. Give other copies of this checklist to individuals such as your lawyer or your close relatives who have copies of your important documents. Keep copies of documents such as wills and trust agreements in your portable fireproof box for easy access.