Monday, 21 November 2011

The 30 items you need before you die

Do you have a Death Book? 
It might sound a little morbid but everybody needs one. While you never know when it will happen, the "if" is pretty certain.

I deal with issues surrounding mortality on a daily basis so please excuse my candid nature. In fact, Bill Watterson found a great way to breath comedy into it with his comic strip "Calvin & Hobbes"



Why on earth would I want a Death Book?
Some people like to avoid talking about the inevitable - at times believing that if they just ignore it, it will solve itself. Unfortunately, those who leave it too long can create worlds of problems that they never intended to leave for their heirs. Here are a few reasons that illustrate that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure:
  • The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators report that state treasurers in the US currently hold $32.9 billion in unclaimed bank accounts and other assets. (the Bank of Canada allows you to do a search for unclaimed balances)
  • Roughly 80% of term life insurance policies never pay out. Most result from people cancelling their policies before they die but at least ten states in the US have launched investigations into insurance companies accused of sitting on an unknown amount of unclaimed insurance policies. New York State alone holds more than $400 million in unclaimed life insurance related payments
  • Without a list of assets, the heirs will have to do their own investigative work to discover what was left behind - either waiting for clues to arrive by mail (tax bills, T slips, etc) or by hiring a private investigator

So what would go into your Death book?
Personal Information
  1. Your Personal Information - Full Name, Birthdate, Social Insurance Number, Address, Phone Numbers, Key Work Contact, Title and your Group Benefits Plan Number.
  2. Your Spouses Information - same as above.
Relative/Friend Contact Information
  1. Key Personal Contact - Who would you like notified first? This person would have the responsibility of administrating your affairs in your absence. They would notify family, take care of funeral arrangements and often act as your executor.
  2. Relative Contact Information - Which relatives would you like called first? Word will likely travel but your close relatives usually like to hear it from someone close to you rather than through the grapevine.
Advisor Contact Information
  1. Key Legal Professional - Should be the council who helped you to create your will. They can also keep a copy of your Death Book.
  2. Key Financial Professional - This person should keep a copy of your Death Book and in many cases has helped you to create it. They should be very acquainted with your finances, life insurance arrangements and assets and liabilities in general.
  3. Accountant/Tax Advisor
  4. Home and Auto Insurance Agent
  5. Bank Manager/Advisor

Other Key People
  1. Spiritual Leader
  2. Executor 
  3. Children's Guardian
  4. Alternate Guardian
  5. Doctor
  6. Dentist
Documents
  1. Your Current Will (including Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directive)
  2. Your Spouses Will
  3. 3 most recent Tax Returns
  4. Marriage Certificate (or Divorce records)
  5. Birth Certificates/Citizenship Papers
  6. Business Agreements
  7. Banking Access Information
  8. Record of Investment Holdings (incl: RRSP, LIRA, TFSA)
  9. Deeds and Real-Estate Documents
  10. Outstanding Loan Documents
  11. Funeral Arrangement Documents
  12. Life Insurance Policies
  13. All Other Insurance Policies
  14. Record of Credit Cards
  15. Record of Personal Valuables (jewelry, vehicles, etc)

Where should you keep your Death Book?
You can store the documents with your attorney or financial planner.  Also put a copy in a safe-deposit box or at home in a fireproof safe that someone else knows the combination to. You want it secure and accessible when it is needed.

If you don't know where to start, get in touch with us. We can give you some free simple templates that will get you started. Compiling your Death Book will also simplify things for your lawyer when drafting your will.

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