The “Death Book” Sounds Like a Stephen King Novel, But It’s Actually a Helpful Estate Planning Tool

do you keep all of your important financial information?

-In a cabinet stuffed with unmarked

-In a cardboard box full of unmanageable

-In an old Cleveland Indian’s suitcase
like my dad once did (odd but true)?

are multiple problems with any of these: clutter, disorder, locatability. In
the event of your death, they all create stress and effort for your loved ones
and/or executor.

there is a solution, as Henry Hebeler recently suggested at Market
. His solution is the darkly named, “Death Book.”

A Death
Book is a book (e.g., a binder) prominently labeled “Death Book” that contains information
on financial matters and necessary
actions. For a young and newly married couple, it might only be a couple pages.
For an older, retired couple, it should be more complete and, at some point,
copied for children and executors.

highlights 5 important parts of the Death Book. They include:

  1. Urgent Needs – important contact information (e.g., doctors, attorneys,
    accountants) and how to’s (e.g.,funeral directions and notifications, such as the
    Social Security Administration and broker notifications).
  2. Wills and
    trusts –
    powers of attorney, executors, etc.
  3. Essential Actions
    time-sensitive actions (e.g.,
    taxes and distributions), home and vehicle maintenance records.
  4. Financials – investments, credit cards,
    insurance and tax data.
  5. Location- the location of anything
    needed to settle the estate and/or pay taxes.

Hebeler makes annual updates and adds that he keeps his financial
information protected with a strong password that’s located in a safe deposit box.


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