Resolve to Create a Financial Scrapbook in 2016

Scrapbooking – a way to preserve personal and family stories – is a popular crafting activity all over the world. But a keeping a financial scrapbook could be a life saver for your family in the event of 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.

Even the best DIY financial planners don’t always keep their financial and household information together in a central place. Imagine how easy it would be to have a notebook with chapters that could provide loved ones and caregivers with the information they need, without having to go through a person’s entire filing system – assuming they have one!

In 2016, try creating a financial scrapbook that includes not only important documents and account numbers, but also information to enable someone to temporarily run a household. Be sure to include chapters on:

  • 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, a financial scrapbook should be kept in a safe place, like in a safe deposit box or in an encrypted file on a jump drive (which also could be saved in a safe deposit box). Pick a trusted family member or friend, and share how to gain access to the financial scrapbook in an emergency.

Creating a financial notebook is no small task, but a great start for those looking to put their finances in order in 2016. If families create a scrapbook together, it can also be an opportunity to hold important discussions around end-of-life issues. In addition, a financial scrapbook makes it easy to locate important documents, and, even more important, it makes it easy for loved ones to help during an otherwise stressful time.

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