I have an envelope which sits in a lock box in my house. It’s pretty plain, except on the front is the date when it was sealed, and the words “Open When I Die.”
Pretty gruesome, I know. But it’s going to happen, sometime.
Let me give some background: I live with my wife and 3 kids. I’m fortunate enough to bring in enough income that my wife can focus on the home & family. I also take care of all of the bills. So I bring the money in, and I control the money going out. If I died, my wife would have a hard time figuring out all of our various accounts, bills, who gets what, when, and what’s coming in. Let’s complicate things with the fact that I own a company. There’s a lot to take care of, beyond what a traditional Will covers.
Of course, we have a Will, which takes care of things such as who gets what, who takes care of the kids, when they get money from their trusts… but that doesn’t answer questions like:
- How do you get into my computer & my various accounts?
- Where’s the money?
- What debts do we have?
- What money is coming in?
- What investments do we have?
So years ago, I created a document that started answering these questions. It’s written in Word and saved as a PDF, stored on a USB thumbdrive in another lock box, then printed out and stored in a sealed envelope in the first lock box.
I update the document twice a year (you’d be surprised how much can change in 6 months), and when I last updated it, many people wanted to know what was in it (sans details). So I tried to wipe out any personal info, and I sent out a PDF to some people. Here’s what it contains:
Who To Call
I have 3 people to call to help take care of things. One is a friend of the family who’s known me since the day I was born. He’s also an excellent accountant and has some history of my own finances, so he gets to figure out the money. (sorry)
Next is my sys admin. He’ll be needed to get into any accounts that may need to be accessed. I use LastPass for password management, and 2-factor authentication in many accounts, so not only is my LastPass password in there, which unlocks everything else, but instructions how to access my phone (the pin, or pattern, etc) is also in there.
Finally, I list someone who can help liquidate my affiliate sites and my business. If you know me at all on a personal level, it should be no surprise to find out that person is Tricia Meyer. Because of our Mastermind Group and business partnership with our Wine Club Reviews site, she’ll know how to sell things off.
I list where various documents and other valuables (in my eyes) are stored: life insurance, Will, Ricky Henderson rookie card (my favorite baseball player, and a childhood dream of owning this card). And this document (in paper and electronic format).
A summary of the Will, where it’s located and the filing information. Same with my Power of Attorney.
Life Insurance Policies
What policies we have, with whom, for how much, policy numbers, and expiration dates. (Note to self: add insurance agent contact info)
Contact information about our lawyer.
Information about how to get into Microsoft Money (I need to switch to Quicken someday!), our bank (account numbers and passwords – for some reason I don’t store my banking password in LastPass), answers to my security questions (logging in from a different computer means having to answer security questions), and details on our various savings accounts.
It’s something we talk about, but let’s be honest: at the time a funeral needs to be planned, will the requests be remembered? I know I won’t remember what Laura wants. This is a section that I’m still building out.
So far I sound like I’m all business, and I have been. But I left a few sentence, personal message to Laura at the end of this document.
Is this secure?
We need to balance absolute security (information only in my head) and convenience. The information itself only exists in two places: two different fire-safe lock boxes, which are bolted to different floors of our house, which itself is locked and has an alarm system, smack-dab in the middle of the Village in New York with more police officers per mile of road than any other municipality in all of New York State, surrounded by observant neighbors. I’m OK with this.
You can download the PDF for yourself. My version is 4 pages long, in outline format. I encourage you to create a document like this for yourself, especially if you have kids. And get a Will! Use a real lawyer, or check out LegalZoom.
Or you can live in denial, and have your loved ones curse you when you die.