Create a Personal Financial Directory

If you were to become incapacitated or pass away, how easy would it be for someone else to take over your financial affairs? Would the responsible party have to search through a mountain of disorganized paperwork in your dresser, or be unable to track your accounts because you handle all your finances online? Would he or she be able to refer to a directory that provides a list of all accounts and other necessary information?

Death and injury are a part of life, no matter how unpleasant a topic it might be. Creating a personal financial directory makes it easier for someone to cancel your accounts or otherwise manage your finances. You may also find it handy if, for example, your wallet is stolen and you need to notify your financial institutions and creditors.

To get started, set aside some time to think about all of the accounts and obligations you have, including:

  • Your mortgage or rent
  • Loans
  • Credit cards
  • Utilities
  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Investments
  • Retirement funds
  • Insurance

List the following information for each entry:

  • Account number
  • Company or financial institution
  • Phone number, address and website
  • Online username and password
  • How to access statements
  • Monthly payment amount and due date (if applicable)

Your financial directory should also include the name and contact information for any financial advisors, such as an accountant or financial planner.

For safety, keep a copy of your financial directory in a safety deposit box or fireproof safe. Don’t leave it in a desk or dresser drawer, as you run the risk of it being stolen or destroyed somehow.

You’ll also want to let someone know this directory exists, since the reason you created it is so that your finances would not be a mystery.

Another way to make it easier for your financial affairs to be managed is to assign someone as durable power of attorney for finances, and an executor of your estate. You can use the same person or two different people for these roles. A durable power of attorney allows someone to make financial decisions for you while you are alive, and the executor of your estate (as named in your will) handles your financial affairs after your death. Creditors and service providers will typically take payment from anyone, but they may be able to discuss details or close an account unless someone has the legal authority to act on your behalf.

You can create a durable power of attorney and a will with the help of a lawyer or computer software. Make sure to choose a person(s) who is trustworthy – if no relative or friend seems appropriate, you can name your lawyer or accountant to one or both of these roles.

A bit of planning will ensure that your finances are taken care of even when you are not able to manage them yourself.

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