Nearly 20 years ago, Cameron Morgan took the lead at our firm to implement a whole lot of good ideas we had floating around about how to get your financial life organized. She integrated them in a three-ring binder. With only a little bit of help from the rest of us, the Family Financial Album was born.
During the Covid 19 pandemic, we have been given the opportunity to spend more time at home. What better time than now to put all your financial ducks in a row?
Your Family Financial Album is a place to help your relatives and other loved ones to know where you have things invested, to save them time and effort. You don’t need a three-ring binder, or even a filing cabinet to store the info. Instead, what your survivors want to know is where they need to go—and what are they looking for.
I remember 12 years after my father passed away, we had a surprise investment show up and pay my mom a dividend. Are you kidding me? What else could there have been that we missed? Don’t let it happen to you!
Let’s look at what should be included in everyone’s financial album:
Regular review and statements
We put these together for all our clients at our regular progress meetings. Many clients keep them. In the Family Financial Album, tell your relatives where you’ve saved the files.
Note where you keep your copy of your birth certificate, marriage certificate, passport, deeds, etc.
Estate planning documents
Whether you have a simple Will or a complicated plan involving Trusts, note where you keep these documents and the contact information for the attorney and other helpful people, like a trustee and financial advisor.
The Family Financial Album is a checklist of good ideas so that you can be respectful of, and be honored by, your loved ones.
End of life documents
This section contains HIPPAA authority, advance medical directive, and other important documents.
Nothing is worse than for an executor to hunt down a life insurance policy that doesn’t exist. You previously surrendered the life policy, but nobody knew. Oops! Also include the information about the rest of your insurance policies—including ones that may have lapsed—because you might inadvertently cause your survivor’s stress.
Do you have an executive benefit plan? An annuity income? A pension? Do you have real estate or other investments? Write down the information here—and point to where the survivor can go to learn more.
Even after death—but hopefully only that first year after death—taxes are due. Write down the information that would be helpful for your survivor to wrap up your final tax return. Include the contact information for your CPA.
Include the location for your passwords—wherever you may have saved them—so that survivors may shut down your various online accounts. Include the social media, like Facebook, as well as the financial website information too. To avoid printing these passwords and saving them where a thief may steal them, name the location where you’ve kept the passwords. Consider an online password vault. We use Keeper Security, and many options are available.
Finally, my favorite part of the Family Financial Album, the instructions for your survivors. Do you want to donate your organs? How do you want your final service to go? Include as many details as possible. The Family Financial Album s a checklist of good ideas so that you can be respectful of, and be honored by, your loved ones in just the way that is right for you.
The Family Financial Album is a great resource for you and your loved ones. However glum it might appear to prepare for your own inevitable mortality, this resource makes it a little easier, a little more organized, and delivers a huge impact for your survivors.