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Planning Ahead: Tools and Resources

Important Legal, Financial, and Personal Information for Your Family

Personal document and information collection is an important part of advance planning. By organizing the account numbers of various policies and financial accounts, the location of important documents, and your online usernames and passwords—and keeping this information in a place known to your family—you will greatly help them as they settle your estate, close accounts, and protect your personal information.

The list below outlines some of the key information that will help your family with financial and legal logistics after you’re gone.

In addition to the checklist below, there are a number of resources that can help you collect this critical information. One is called “Get It Together” by Melanie Cullen and Shae Irving, J.D., published by Nolo. There are also a number of online resources, such as Everplans and, both of which can help you collect and store this information.

A note about security: Much of the information outlined below is highly sensitive. To protect your information, it’s a good idea to only include “meta information”—for example, the location of your passport but not your passport number; the banks at which you have accounts and the types of accounts you have, but not your account numbers or PIN numbers. Once you’ve completed the form, it should be kept in a secure place, the location of which is only known by a few people whom you trust. If you have a safe deposit box, you might consider keeping it there—but make sure that your family knows about the safe deposit box and has keys to access the box when the time comes.

Information about Yourself and Your Family

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Citizenship papers
  • Divorce/separation papers
  • Adoption papers
  • Social Security numbers/cards
  • Passports (numbers, expiration dates)
  • Driver's license (number, expiration dates)
  • Military records
  • Hebrew name

Medical Information

  • Name and contact information for health care professionals
    • Physicians
    • Dentists
    • Pharmacists
    • Other professionals
  • Health care proxies/living wills

Financial Information

  • Income sources (retirement and/or disability benefits, Social Security, etc.
  • Financial assets (institution names, account numbers, address/telephone, form of ownership, current value), including:
    • Cash
    • Money market funds
    • Bank accounts
    • Retirement and pension plans
    • Stocks
    • IRAs
    • Bonds
    • Annuities
    • Mutual funds
    • Life insurance
  • Real estate (property addresses, location of deeds, form of ownership, insurance, current value)
    • Primary home (House Deed)
    • Investment property
    • Vacation home
  • Other Assets (location of items/titles/documents, form of ownership, insurance, current value)
    • Automobiles (car title)
    • Collectibles
    • Boats
    • Interests in businesses
    • Inheritances
    • Hidden valuables/items in storage
    • Precious gems, jewelry
    • Loans to family members/friends
  • Liabilities (creditor institutions, address/telephone, approximate debt)
    • Mortgages
    • Notes
    • Personal loans
    • Safety deposit box
    • IOUs
    • Credit cards
    • Other

Insurance Information (list company name, policy number, and location)

  • Life
  • Health
  • Medigap (supplemental health)
  • Long-term care
  • Dental
  • Disability
  • Homeowners/renters
  • Liability
  • Automobile

Legal Information

  • Wills (dates of documents, executor names, address/telephone)
  • Powers of attorney or durable powers of attorney (names, including backup, address/telephone)
  • Advance medical directives
  • Durable medical powers of attorney
  • Health care proxies
  • Living wills
  • Guardianships/conservatorships (names, address/telephone)
  • Trust agreements

Important Contacts

  • Professional advisors other than health care (name, address/telephone)
    • Attorneys
    • Insurance agents
    • Financial Advisors
    • Stockbrokers
    • Bankers
    • Clergy
    • Accountants
  • Past employers (company names, address/telephone, dates of retirement, contact persons, employee ID numbers)
  • Close friends and neighbors (names, address/telephone, indicating those who have keys to house/apartment/condominium)
  • Service providers (names, address/telephone)
  • Club memberships, volunteer activities, and senior centers (names, address/telephone)
  • Landlord (name, address/telephone)

Other Information

  • Inventory of family historical records (documents, photos, keepsakes)
  • Safe deposit boxes (institution names, address/telephone, location of keys and list of contents, other names on safe deposit boxes)
  • Tax records

Information Regarding Digital Assets and Access

  • Usernames, passwords, and identification of key computer files, personal online accounts, email and online correspondences, social media accounts, and photos and videos
  • If you have operated a business, account information, websites, domain names, mailing lists, etc. that are online
  • Access to content stored on personal computers, smart phones, etc.