Since you already recognize the importance of organizing your information, what do you have to do? In his best seller, THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE, Dr. Stephen Covey presents the principle of “Begin With The End In Mind“. In the context of our topic, please remember three things: What, Where, and Who.
WHAT. No matter how many times I mention things to my wife and kids, they don’t remember the details. And when someone else tells me about their information, I don’t remember the details, either. We can’t expect others to remember over time without a roadmap of documentation.
Think about all of your critical categories of personal information. Insurance, Bank Accounts, Investments, Wills/POA/Living Wills/Trusts/Custodial/Guardianship documents… In this digital age, what about all of your online accounts and passwords?
WHERE. So besides documenting the WHAT Details, WHERE is your critical information stored? Can it can be found easily? Knowing WHAT exists is great, but if you don’t know WHERE it is, you still have the second dimension of a scavenger hunt.
WHO. It all starts by proactively designating someone to manage your affairs, as your POA or Executor, who will be legally acting on your behalf. Now HOW do you tell them? For additional information on this topic, see our writeup The Elephant in the Room – Confronting Mortality and How to Talk to Others about your Legacy. Itemize the WHAT and WHERE from the perspective of your designated representative. Again, WHAT would they need to know, and WHERE is the information?
What to do next?
If you do nothing else, at least prepare basic lists manually, and let your family know the location. But clearly, it might be beneficial to consider a service such as MyLegacyBackup to guide you through this task.
Don’t forget – your personal vault is only as valuable as the information that you’ve placed inside it…