By FPA member, John R. Power, CFP®
Last Updated: March 20, 2013
It sounds simple, and it is, but it will make a big difference in your life. Making this list is the first step in really getting your finances, and your life, in order. If you are like most people you know (or think you know) all of this, but might have trouble pulling it all together, particularly under pressure. If you are like me you know all the important stuff but have a hard time finding what you need in the file cabinet. So what to do? Create a Personal Data Sheet. What goes on that sheet?
First, details about you, your spouse or partner, and your children. Names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, employer and work phone, and email addresses. These obvious pieces of information aren’t always obvious to someone trying to help in an emergency and that is what such a list is all about.
Second the contact information about all the key people in your life – Emergency notification person, primary care physician(s), clergyman, financial planner, tax advisor/accountant, lawyer, insurance agent(s), executor, children’s guardian, etc. If you haven’t yet figured out who these are, now is as good a time as any.
Then comes the harder work but the job that pays the greatest “dividends”. You need to list in one place all of your accounts – the institution, contact name, phone number, type of account and account number. This is the hard work because most people have several of these, and they are:
- Bank accounts – checking, savings, money market, etc.
- Retirement accounts – IRA, 401k, 403b, TSP, etc.
- Investment accounts – stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. not in IRA-type accounts.
- Loans and credit cards
- Insurance policies – Health, auto, life, homeowners/renters, liability, disability, long term care, etc.
Last, estate planning documents such as wills, living trusts, financial durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney, living will, etc.
Where should you put this? You do want this information to be guarded because it has vital information about your life. Perhaps in the front section of a locked file cabinet would be good. A key point would then be to let a select few people know where the key is located. They are then equipped so that should you be incapacitated they can step in and take care of your needs and fulfill your wishes. Keep this current and your life organization will improve by leaps and bounds.
FPA Member John R. Power, CFP®, is Principle at Power Plans, a state-registered (MA) fee-only investment advisory and financial planning firm with offices in Walpole, MA and Glen, NH.