Getting Your Affairs in Order for Your Kids

I'm afraid that in the event of my death my kids would have no ideal what to do. They would need to call to have social security benefits and retirement payments stopped. They would also, need to know what bills need to be paid, etc. I pay everything online and don't get paper statements.


Any suggestions on how to get this information, legal documents, etc., organized all in one place, and instructions on who they are to call and what they are to do. I plan on being around for a very long time, but I am a senior.

This is something I've thought of doing, but don't know where to begin. When my mother passed I had a mess on my hands and I prefer to not put my kids thought this. I would love to hear suggestions.

By Betty

July 16, 20100 found this helpful

My mom has always been concerned about what happens when she and Dad go, and I have to take care of everything (I'm an only child). They've already made arrangements and prepaid for their funerals. They consulted with an attorney, to make sure all their affairs are taken care of, and how to make it easier on me (legally) after they're gone, so that I have as little red tape to deal with as possible. I have a copy of the paperwork, they have a copy locked away, and the attorney has a copy. They have other important paperwork in their safe, hidden away. The keys are stored in a different place. And Mom made a binder with all their account information in it. Every couple of years, we make sure I can remember where the keys, the safe, and the binder are. If you choose to make a binder with all of your information, make it look like it's something trivial, like recipes or craft projects. Just in case someone nosey comes around, they don't see the binder labeled "Important Information!" No need for unwanted attention.

I'm sure there are other ways to handle it. But this is what my mom has done for me. I think documenting all the accounts and contact information, and having it all in one secure place is a good idea (and letting your kids know where to look!). It doesn't have to be a binder, but maybe in a certain file in a certain file cabinet. I hope you get some good suggestions that will help you. Best of luck!

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July 16, 20100 found this helpful

I have a lot of friends all over the world. One of my concerns was not only how to take care of issues but how to notify all my friends of my passing. What I have done is made an email as my "Fair Well I'm Dead" letter. That email sits in my drafts folder ready to be mailed with all addresses already listed. I have had to update it once. Now I also have another email that is like my last will and testament. It only has a few email addresses on it. The people that need to know. I have made arrangements with my niece who is responsible and understanding. She has my web email address, username and password. She also know all she needs to do is access that drafts folder and mail those two emails. All is done. I don't have a lot of "things" that need to be taken care of when I die. So this is a pretty simple plan but it will work for me.

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July 20, 20100 found this helpful

You don't have to notify SS. When the doctor signs the death certificate SS is automatically notified. I have buried three people who were on SS and I never had to take care of that. Funeral directors now have the ability to find any insurance a person may have and will let you know. My Aunt had a policy she had forgotten about and they told my Uncle about it. They will also sit with you and help you plan the funeral, and order the flowers etc, they will provide a clergy person if you don't have one. So if you have this all prepared by some local funeral parlor ahead, your children won't have to do it. Just make a list, place it with your will which must not be in a safety deposit box. It is better with the lawyer who makes it up if he will keep it. Some won't. Tell the kids who has it. Also this is good advice, tell the executor to hire a lawyer to help settle the estate if it is a large one. This is not the same as making a lawyer the executor. Some states require this if the estate is over 25,000. The lawyer will see that all is carried out correctly.

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July 20, 20100 found this helpful

Hello, I did this for my mother. "Google" "What My Family Should Know" Scroll through until you find the PDF format to download and print. It has everything there and some things I had not even thought of.

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July 20, 20100 found this helpful

Having just lost my mother to cancer Aug 2009, I have very fresh experience with all of this. We had 10 months from diagnosis to death with Mom and I am grateful for every single moment in those 10 months.

What has been posted is correct, the funeral directors are so much help and my strongest words of advice to any and every one that asks these days is pre-plan your service! Write out specifically what you want done and said, what music you want played, where you want to be and what you want to happen with your belongings. Then sit down at your computer and type up a word doc that includes all your log in info and passwords to every single thing you have/do on line. This includes email accounts, bill pay sites and anything else that you have there. Also a list of all the credit cards you have, including their account numbers and passwords to their sites. Before Mom passed, we had cut up all the credit cards. Bad move! After she passed, Dad needed to file bankruptcy and we found we needed those account numbers because I couldn't access them through the sites. Please feel free to email me at grammysgoodies @ hotmail. com if you have any other questions.

God Bless,

Sheila in Springfield, IL

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July 20, 20100 found this helpful

I keep a three ring binder with copies of living will and final will. On the outside it states what it is inside. I also keep copies of insurance papers, bank statements, recurring bills (such as cell phone bills), and any other paperwork that might be pertinent. Have to update it on occasion. Am also letting my children know about "final disposition" preferences. Since a cousin will be my executrix, I am going to have her sign on to my bank accounts, so she can access those easily...not to worry, I don't have enough for anyone to be interested in taking it! This is a convenience only.

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July 20, 20100 found this helpful

We have a "disaster letter" for our kids. One copy in the house, one with the eldest, and one with our lawyer. We update at least yearly, or when we buy something big.

We collect antiques, and so everything of value has been photographed and the "latest" market value updated yearly. Also which auction house each piece is best sold at.

Social security, drivers license and registration and all other cards (visa, amex, debit, etc) are copied and in there too. All pin numbers, bank accounts, passwords (for computer too), a listing of all our "bills" and the account numbers, our stocks, etc. Name of our broker, doctors, the person we're most friendly with at the bank. Car, personal and house insurance are listed with account numbers and contact. Everything in one three-ring binder.

We also include the latest tax return.

County surrogate's office has a handout with a checklist for people regarding list of priorities after a death, re social security, etc. That's included too. Also strong advice: tell them to go to the accountant first, not the lawyer, and those names are given as well.

Had expensive mistake by going to lawyer for Mom: $60,000 for estate tax return. Go to accountant.

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July 20, 20100 found this helpful

Great ideas, all. Along with filing papers with trusted loved ones, lawyers, etc, buy an electronic drive (ZIP, thumb, SD or microSD, whatever) and make folders. Medical, put any diagnoses, physical, mental, emotional, what meds, if any, you take for each, how much, how often, and how long you have been on them. List prescribing doctor(s) and their contact info. Don't forget to list any allergies or if you have had bad reactions to any type medicines.

Next, in another folder, put preferences for treatment, such as a DNR, whether or not you want blood transfusions (list your blood type, too). List whom a doctor should call if you cannot speak for yourself, list if that contact is a spouse, sibling, child, friend, spiritual advisor, and have a back up, if the first person cannot be reached or is far away and it will take time for them to get to you.

In the next folder, list your banking info Credit cards (make photostats of them and include those), debit cards, AARP. Medicare, etc. Don't forget Driver's License, too. List any automated drafts taken out of your account, list what bills you pay online, account numbers, passwords, what bills you pay offline, IRA's, 401 (k), retirement plan, stocks, bonds, etc.

Then, make a folder, funeral, put whether you have a prepaid arrangement with funeral director, whether there is a burial plot or where you want ashes scattered (or kept), what flowers, music, speakers you want. Be very specific. Put names and numbers of the funeral director you have any plans with, along with any info the director may need.

After that folder, make a power of attorney folder. Make scans of that, so there is no question of who should be making what decisions.

Then a now that I'm dead folder. Your more distant relatives, friends, both on and offline, utilities, clubs, etc. Also, if there is to be an obituary in the local paper.

Then, include a personal letter to the person who is doing this for you. Thank them, and let them know that you appreciate their efforts, and what they are doing for you and your friends, family, etc.

I hope I helped a little.

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July 20, 20100 found this helpful

As you're outlining all this for your loved ones, please don't forget to remember your online communities. When I was seriously injured in an auto accident 7.5 years ago, my older daughter knew to (and more importantly, knew HOW to) let my online "family" know what happened.

In the "online communities" information: if your trusted messenger isn't already part of the same online community, you might provide user names and passwords. Be specific as to any preferred message or how much info would be TMI. Your online "family" may be too far-flung to attend a memorial service, but online memorials work in this day and age. Also, your online "family" may want to send remembrances your loved ones would treasure.

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