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Organize Your Information

OrganizeOnce you have completed your estate planning, you need to make sure that you have all of your information in order. Estate planning documents usually don't cover everything that your family or an executor will need to know. In today's electronic world, many people have important information — especially financial — protected by passwords or other security measures. You need to prepare detailed instructions for your executor.

Here's a sample of information you may need to describe:

  • List those items that require a personal identification number (PIN), username & password, or other login information. Include the login information. For example,

    • Computers
    • Internet service providers and/or web hosting services
    • Email accounts
    • Online services
    • Online financial accounts
    • Software applications
    • Cell phones
    • Personal digital assistants (PDAs)

  • List how various personal property is secured. Include how to get to that property, such as passwords, combinations, or where the keys are located. Examples include:

    • Vehicle and home alarm systems
    • Home safes
    • Locked mailboxes
    • Gates
    • Locked boxes, drawers, or cabinets

  • List your safe deposit boxes. Include this information:

    • Contact information for the bank or other financial institution
    • The people who have authorized access to the box
    • The box number
    • Location of the box keys
    • Description of the box's contents

  • List anything else you have hidden away. Describe each item, its location, and the location of any documents related to the item (such as an appraisal). The list should include:

    • Financial assets that aren't stored at a financial institution
    • Valuable items that your executor/family might not find without direction
    • Other information known only to you

Once you've made your list you'll need to store it in a secure location that only your executor or other designated persons have access to. A waterproof, fireproof home safe is a good location. Tell your executor or other designated persons how to get to the information.

Don't forget to update your information periodically.

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