If it’s one thing we wish for the new year, it’s that all of us—not just those over 50—enjoy 2020 Vision as we review the critical administrative tasks we need to address in our senior years. As you read our suggestions, think about those in your life who may need to not only keep this checklist handy, but make preparations accordingly. Send them a link to our website and ask them to read this blog. The link is www.foundationassistingseniors.org/blog.
As The Foundation Assisting Seniors (FAS) goes about providing its services, volunteers often come upon critical situations that could have been avoided if a little preparation had been done ahead of time. For example, widows or widowers who have not been educated by their spouse about access to legal documents or bank accounts may not know how to get to the money that is needed to carry on.
In the coming year, FAS will offer educational programs to help people get ready for the inevitable. In the meantime, here is our list of the top ten items that should be addressed by individuals and shared with their family members before it becomes a need.
1. Wills and trusts. Keep copies of your will and/or trusts in a safe place and make sure family members know where to find it. Inform all of them who your executor is, and keep that person’s contact information with your legal documents.
2. Banking information. Maintain a list of account numbers, bank addresses and phone numbers, and personal bankers’ names. If you use the account on line, be sure to provide website access information.
3. Computer access information. Let your family members know your passwords. A good idea for the person who will be tending to your affairs is to change that password after you’re gone, just in case some enterprising hacker wants to try and access your information.
4. Social media. Give your account names and passwords to someone you trust with instructions to close the accounts or make one final post notifying friends of your passing. The safest way to do that is through an instant messaging or email system to “friends” rather than posting a public notification.
5. Memberships. Provide a list of organizations or on-line services to which you belong so these accounts can be closed. You do not want your estate to be hit with dues or subscription fees. Include contact information or websites so your next-of-kin can notify them of the end of your membership.
6. Contracts and legal documents. If you are under a legal obligation of any sort, be sure to include the name and contact information for your attorney and, if available, copies of any contracts which are in force. Remember to include such things as rental agreements for storage facilities, safe deposit boxes, post office boxes, divorce decrees and the like.
7. Residential agreements. Provide names and contact information for mortgage companies, landlords or tenants, homeowners association agreements, landscapers and pool management companies.
8. Electronic services. Create a list of your cable or television subscriptions, internet service provider, cell and landline phone carriers. One good way to supply all the information needed is to keep one copy of a bill for these services and utilities in a file with easy accessibility for whoever will need to shut down service or place it in someone else’s name.
9. Your church. Provide names of clergy and/or funeral coordinators for your church. If possible, include information about the memorial service you prefer (or do not want.) One Henderson, NV-based church hosts workshops entitled “Creating a Memorial Service Your Way,” and assists attendees by helping them identify music, scripture, readings, and photos they’d like to have at their own service. Many times relatives who are unfamiliar with their loved one’s church preferences are thrown into the fray to plan a service without any knowledge of their aunt or uncle’s desires. They depend upon the church for advice, and it’s helpful for a pastor to know ahead of time what your preferences are in this area.
10. Charities. If you have a preference as to where memorial funds should go, or if you’ve decided to leave donations in your estate planning, let your executor know the names of these organizations and their primary contact.
This is by no means an exclusive list of things to take care of well ahead of the time when they’ll be needed, but we hope your 2020 Vision includes items like these. Share them with your loved ones, who we assure you, will appreciate this gift.
*Graphic by Natasha Vanderburg on Dribbble