I'm relatively new here and have learned lots since I've been reading. While researching investment policy statements, I came across mentions of letter of instruction. In our house, this is fondly known as the "death book". I stumbled onto the version my Dad put together before he died and it was invaluable to me, an immense time saver. As I went through the estate settlement process after his death last year, I kept track of what was helpful and what was missing and came up with the following general table of contents that could be used as a starting point for most people. This is not meant to be just a primer or introduction to the family finances but a good, overall write up of all household related documentation. Its a good rainy Saturday afternoon/Sunday morning project
. I hope some of you find it useful.Personal Summary
Name, address, tele #s, maiden name if any, Mothers maiden name, DOB, Birth place, SS#, drivers license #s for all family members and lineals
Copies of all Wills, Trusts, Power of Attorneys, Health care proxies, Living wills, applicable amendments, etc.
Vital docs - marriage cert, service discharge papers, birth certs, passports, etc. (origs should be in safe deposit box)
Email account info and passwords
IDs and passwords to all on line accounts
Personal Address books
Personal telephone #s - home, cell, etc.
Location and list of safe deposit box content and key
Important contacts, i.e. Lawyer, Accountant, Financial Advisor (if any), etc.
List of pets, names, meds, feeding instruction, vet contact info
Computer IDs and passwords including Admin access
Electronic document location - Local, cloud, etc.
Router Info - wireless SSID and password; Admin ID/Password
Smartphone unlock codesBenefits
Primary care info - Doctor contact info
Medicare and health insurance info for all
Social Security Benefit info for all
Long term care account info if any
Life insurance info (Company, actual policies, policy #s, value, bene and tele #) if any
Additional death benefit values and sources info if anyAnnually:
Validate Bene info is correct for all insurance and retirement accountsFinancial
Bank Account info and latest statements
Investment Account info and latest statements
Retirement plan accounts and statements
Credit card info and latest statements
At least two years of tax returns, both federal and state
Expenses by month and vendor, acct # and how paid, i.e. electronic, check, auto withdraw (important to know these), etcProperty
Residences - Estimated property values, copies of deeds, insurance info, keys, phone #
Cars/Trucks/Boats/RVs/Trailers- Estimated value, copy of latest appraisal if any, original titles, registration copies, insurance policy, maintenance history, preferred service person and contact info, keys
Contractor contact info for home repairs
Specific instructions for disbursement of more expensive personal property (should be included in Will or Trust also)Upon Death Preparation
Funeral home preference and contact name
Obituary - actual text, where you want it posted. i.e. what newspapers, funeral home websites, magazines, etc.
Service and burial/cremation preferences, plot location
Casket/Headstone/urn preference and any arrangements/receipts if already made
Wording on stone/urnSurvivor tasks after death
Notify family and friends
Arrange for funeral home related tasks, obit, service/burial/cremation/after get together, etc.
Get at least 10 certified death certificates and 20 copies from the funeral home (provide copies whenever possible)
Notify Lawyer, Accountant, Financial Advisor
Call SSA to stop/change SS# benefits to surviving spouse if applicable
Call life insurance companies to request paperwork to start payout processLegal
Lawyer should start required paper work and provide an instructional letter of required legal tasks and timeline to Executor and Trustee
Establish a budget for anticipated legal fees. Remember, you will be billed for every phone call and email question. Ideally, these expenses should all be paid/reimbursed from the deceased's estate
Keep copies of all paperwork and receipts for related expenses
Identify and begin Probate process if necessary