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June 26, 2009


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At the end of every year I produce a document that lists all accounts, account numbers, balances, web site locations, logins, passwords, etc.

As well as insurance policies (personal and at work), unexercised stock options, unpaid accounts receivables, still owing buyout payments, etc.

Just every thing, place, person, entity where money is stored or where money is owed to us. Heck sometimes I consult the list. Without the list, my death would almost certainly amount in a bunch of money going poof.

Interestingly my wife was talking with a friend just a few weeks ago and the friend asked her if she was ever worried what she would do financially if I died. And she said, nope, I have my list. She said her friend has no list and said she would be lost. It was good to see the sense of security it gave to my wife.

i think it's definitely a big deal.

i have a very detailed file on this at work in case anything happens to me and someone needs to take over my job duties without my assistance.

i've been thinking about doing a similar file for all my personal accounts but haven't gotten around to it yet. maybe it's time

On observation: this is not just a good thing to leave for your heirs. As Apex alluded to, it can be a valuable tool for you while living, either to overcome regular absent-mindedness or in the aftermath of memory problems (biological or trauma-related). Accidents happen, being prepared is good.

Every year, my wife and I play the widow game. She has to pay the bills, track the finances, etc for one month. It ensures I keep every login/password info updated regularly and she knows where to find everything.

This is now a huge deal to me. As a young 20-something, I had it on my eventual to-do list. Obviously I didn't plan on dying any time soon.

Then a few weeks ago, I got in a car wreck that could have easily killed me. Thankfully, I was alright, but it was a huge wakeup for myself and my wife.

We're going to make sure that she's more involved in our finances, that we're co-owners of all our accounts, and that we have a list of all accounts, passwords, etc... in case the worst should happen.

writing down passwords - isn't that plain stupid? why not share them with your spouse verbally so that he/she can handle any emergency...

I think this is a very good idea after having lived through a loss where information was not shared. My father in law passed away unexpectedly in 2008. He kept a password list, and other important documents in the safe. Low and behold, my mother in law didn't know the combination to the safe. We were able to get into the safe, but it would have been a lot easier had the information been shared.

I hate to say this, but I would be interested to see what people think about having a Safe in their house, compared to off site such as parents or a safety deposit box. Security wise, Risk Wise etc, having this important information off site is better. Although you do have to have an amount of trust in the location of where you are storing your information.

I believe it is also a great idea to consolidate your investments as much as possible. We have only three major assets. Our home and a beachfront condo, both paid off years ago. Our monetary investments are all in three accounts (A joint trust and two IRAs) at Fidelity Investments, one of the oldest and most trusted names in the business. Since our net worth is now very high I am a 'Private Access' client and have a VP available, that we have both got to know very well, and even though I have always made all of my own investment decisions, she is available to assist my wife in the event that I am not. It goes without saying that our three main assets are contained in a living trust.

Some individuals that I know have money scattered in many different brokerages and mutual fund companies, all over the USA, as well as owning real estate lots, limited partnerships, timeshares, and rentals, all of which are very illiquid and are hard to dispose of assets. Rentals are to be avoided at all costs, I hear nothing but horror stories from friends about the condition of rentals when tenants move out or have to be evicted.

I have a 5 drawer file cabinet and a safe that contain all of our important documents. We also live in a small very well run city, on flat undisturbed land, in a wood frame home, well above sea level, in an urban setting, and don't have to worry about forest fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes or mud slides, just the occasional earthquake. The last one was the Loma Prieta quake, 7.1 on the Richter scale, in 1979 when two bottles of wine fell out of a cupboard and smashed.

One problem however is that my wife does not use a computer whereas I use a computer extensively to keep track of everything and to pay bills. Fortunately we have three children that are each very computer literate and with the help of my up-to-date list of passwords would be available to help in the transition to non-computer record keeping and bill paying. Since I gave up trading in 2007 and now own only individual municipal bonds and CDs the only investment decisions now are buying more of the same whenever interest is received or bonds or CDs mature - about as simple as I can make it.

Throughout my life and in my working career I followed the KISS principle - 'Keep It Simple Stupid'. It has worked very well for me for the last fifty years.

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