Creating a Financial Scrapbook
Could a loved one run your household in an emergency?
When a friend or relative faces a lengthy hospital stay, family members or trusted individuals often need to help keep the person’s household running. That may mean locating insurance policies, helping to pay bills, or placing regular deliveries or services, like housekeeping, on hold. But what if the person in the hospital is unconscious, unable to speak, or will need long-term care? That’s when financial “scrapbooking” can be a handy tool.
A financial scrapbook is essentially a “how-to” guide that you can entrust to a loved one. It’s different than a will, because you may need to use it while you’re still alive. Plus, few wills provide the level of detail a person would need to wind down a person’s affairs. The fun part of this project is not so much the assembly of paperwork; it’s more about your personal touch – the pictures you include, the jokes you make about your dog, or the letter you write to guide your loved one through a potential tough decision on your behalf.
Your scrapbook should not only include important documents and account numbers, but also information to enable someone to temporarily run a household. Some suggestions include:
- What bills must be paid each month (such as mortgage and homeowner association payments, utilities, cable, telephone and Internet, credit cards, etc.) with account numbers and company contact information
- Ongoing ancillary household services, with phone numbers and contact names (for grocery delivery, housecleaning, pest control, yard care, etc.)
- Pet care directions and veterinary information
- A copy of the individual’s financial plan, with a list of savings and investment accounts, along with statements for each account
- Important documents, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, car titles, property deeds, wills, passports, medical directives, burial plots, etc.
- Insurance documents with account information (auto, life, health, umbrella, etc.)
- Tax returns for the past three to five years
- Login information for all online accounts, including social media
- Instructions on who to contact and how in the event of the person’s death (this should include family members, friends, attorneys, insurance agents, funeral homes, government agencies like the Social Security Administration – even the person’s Christmas card list!)
Whether in a notebook or computer file, be sure to keep your financial scrapbook in a safe place, like a safe deposit box or in an encrypted file on a jump drive (which also could be saved in a safe deposit box).
AMDG Financial offers additional resources to help you create a financial scrapbook on the Resources page of our website. Look for the Financial Inventory Worksheet, as well as the Financial Affairs at the End of Life PDF.