“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
-Benjamin Franklin (from a letter he wrote in 1789)
‘Tis certain. There will be a death in your family. Most of us prefer to avoid thinking about this eventuality, but it’s a very, very good idea to do some advance planning…just in case.
A “legacy drawer” is a must for every home owner or renter. A legacy drawer is a document, binder, or desk drawer that contains instructions and paperwork your loved ones will need to have after you pass away.
A legacy drawer can also come in handy should you need to evacuate your home – it should contain all the essential information you’d need to start over.
The legacy drawer idea is the brainchild of financial expert, Dave Ramsey. An article at Ramsey’s website recommends:
“The drawer should be somewhere in your home and contain everything your spouse or family needs to know if you aren’t around—anything that has to do with your financial life should be in that drawer.
You must organize it in a way that anyone can find a specific document in 30 seconds. All files should be clearly marked, in order, and easy for a grieving family member to find.”
Include the following essentials in your legacy drawer:
- A cover letter or list that introduces loved ones to the drawer’s contents.
- Copies or your will or trust; names of your executor and person with power of attorney.
- All financial accounts in your name: credit card, bank, retirement, stocks, bonds, military pensions (include account names, amount, and account numbers).
- Funeral plans: Can include what you want written in your obituary or on your tombstone, and your wishes regarding organ donation, burial, or cremation (including where you want your ashes scattered)
- Insurance policies: Health, life, auto, homeowners’ policies. Include who is covered, policy numbers and contact information.
- Vital documents: birth certificates, marriage and divorce certificates, military and Social Security records, car and boat titles, mortgages and property deeds.
- Personal notes and letters to loved ones.
- Monthly budget: Include bills that need to be paid.
- Tax returns: In the case of an IRS audit.
- Safe deposit box: Note where it’s located and who has access. (Keep a copy of the contents of the “legacy drawer” in your safe deposit box, as well.)
- Passwords: usernames, passwords, and PINs for all computer, cell phone, and financial accounts.
Dave Ramsey says you can create a Legacy Drawer in 30 days if you work at it. Why not do it this month? As you collect the documents for your Legacy Drawer, store them in a safe or a locked, fireproof filling cabinet. Be sure to tell a trusted family member or friend where to find the key or combination.