Every time I speak before groups of babyboomers and their elderly parents I remind them of the importance of getting all their critical information down on paper or in a computer file that can be accessed by the family if there is an emergency.
What kind of information do you need close at hand? Copies of wills and trusts, durable powers of attorney, health care proxies and living wills should all be readily available. In addition the names and contact information for any family advisers(attorney, doctor, minister, banker etc.) should also be accessible.
Financial information such as the name and account numbers for bank and investment accounts should be listed. In addition the beneficiary statements for IRA’s, annuities and life insurance policies should be close at hand. Make sure these are up to date, and the beneficiary has not already passed on. Also make sure there are contingent beneficiaries listed if the primary beneficiary is deceased when the funds are released.
Last and perhaps more important than ever before. Make sure the internet addresses, usernames and passwords for any online financial accounts are readily available. When one of my clients passed away, his wife did not know the internet accounts he had utilized to manage his investments. The institutions would not give her any information about the accounts. She eventually had to hire an IT specialist to hack into his accounts and it took months!Save info on important documents for your parents.There are a few ways to store all this information. One is a simple three ring binder. If you purchase my book “Can We Talk, A Financial Guide for Babyboomers Assisting Their Elderly Parents.” there is a section at the end of the book called the Lifefolio that has forms available for everything I have mentioned above. You can either tear those pages out or copy them and put them in the binder.
Another approach is to copy all the information digitally into a cloud system such as Dropbox or Google Documents. Then all family members who are authorized can access the information from any computer or tablet connected to the internet.
Whichever way you do it, do it now. You never know when there might be an emergency and you will need to access critical information for your parents.