Is Your Financial Information in Order?

Jan 9, 2024Blog

There will come a time when you are no longer capable of preparing and keeping your financial information in order. Doing so now will bring you peace of mind and help relieve your loved ones’ burden in the future. You’ll ensure proper management of your financial situation and remain in control over your end-of-life care and legacy. The goal is to make and maintain accurate financial records.

Planners and books like “Peace of Mind Planner” and “I’m Dead. Now What?” are readily available (through and other sellers) to help you understand the scope of such a project. These resources can get you started with the process of organizing all your records and personal information. Whether you are a parent, near retirement or both, putting together informational instructions about your finances now could help spare your family a great deal of work and frustration down the road.

Keep This Information with Your Estate Planning Documents

The assumption is that you already have an estate plan with necessary documents such as a will, durable power of attorney and health care proxy.

If this is not the case, retain an estate planning attorney to create these important legal documents. An experienced attorney can properly outline documents that instruct your family about your wishes in medical emergencies and how to distribute your money and property after you’re gone.

You can then focus your attention on the financial details they will need to carry out your wishes. These steps should include a list of all relevant information, such as:

  • Names and contact information for bankers, lawyers and insurance agents
  • Digital and hard assets
  • Bank accounts, bills, debts, credit cards
  • Insurance policies, annuities, pensions
  • PINs and passwords

Include a list of all companies and invoice types (monthly, quarterly, annually) that automatically debit money from your checking account. This list should document anyone and anything that is part of your financial life.

Planning Resources

The many books, planners and online free worksheets available today can serve as your starting point. They may help you identify things to include in your list of financial information. There are also websites and apps designed to store your data and instructions securely for a one-time or recurring fee. These sites are typically referred to as estate planning organizers, end-of-life planners, document storage and even “death apps.”

While these options may sound intriguing, a self-directed approach is generally the most secure. Turning over consolidated personal financial data comes with some risk. Using these services may open you to the possibility of identity theft, hacking, misuse of your records, erasure and loss.

Safely Storing Information at Home

Digitize your information in a computer document or spreadsheet and store it on a flash drive. Print hard copies of your instructions and information and leave them with other important documents, like your will or the deed to your home.

Are you low-tech? There is no shame in assembling a binder or spiral notebook containing this information.

It’s a bit more cumbersome to update, but many people choose to leave instructions to family members in handwritten letters, lists and notebooks. Purchase a fire-resistant, flood-resistant safe for your home to store this information or rent a safe deposit box at a bank.

Ensure your handwritten instructions don’t vary across multiple scattered and undated papers. Stick to a standard method and throw out any old and outdated documents.

Updating Your Information

Keep your records accurate with annual updates. Whenever there is a fundamental shift in how you (or someone else) manage your finances, revise your records accordingly. Be sure your executor and other relevant family members know the location of this information for future reference.

You may prefer that your wishes remain private. Consider sealing your information by storing it on flash drives and as hard copies in envelopes.

Preparing your financial records for your family can be time-consuming, but it’s not complicated. The true goal of this task is organization and consolidation—and it’s one of the most important financial tasks you will undertake during your life.

When you feel your project is near completion (other than annual updates), ensure you are not overlooking anything. Consider consulting with one of our qualified estate planning attorneys. Our experts will not only make sure you have all the necessary legal documents in place, but they can also talk with you in further detail about your planning needs.

Keeping Your Financial Information in Order with Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin

Our comprehensive estate planning practice is tailored to serve individuals in all circumstances and stages of life, including owners of closely held business enterprises and professionals. Our estate planning attorneys are recognized leaders in the fields of estate planning, elder law and planning for individuals with disabilities. They have earned numerous awards and accolades and share their knowledge with other practitioners through articles and continuing education seminars.

Contact us today to set up an appointment to discuss your financial planning needs with one of our expert estate planning attorneys.