If I was to unexpectedly pass away, a tremendous amount of pressure would be shifted to my wife. Not only would she have to deal with the grief and trying to plan the funeral, but she would also be responsible for everything I was handling for the two of us.
She would be expected to know every account, password, and login information I had. Since I primarily handle our investing, she would have to know how to stop my Roth IRA contributions and know how to handle her own investments.
Final estate documents are very important, such as a will, but there is a lot of information outside of a will that your partner will need to know to prevent any unnecessary stress in the event of your passing. This is the beauty of having a financial binder.
What Is A Financial Binder?
Other people may call it something else, but I have always called it a financial binder. A financial binder is where you keep everything your partner would need if you pass away. This can be an actual 1-inch binder, or it can be kept on a hard drive or a file in the cloud. How you choose to keep your information is important (especially for security reasons), but it is very important that your partner knows at all times exactly where it is and how to access it.
What To Include In Your Financial Binder
Make sure to include the following in your financial binder:
Any other devices you have that require a password to access
A list of every subscription service, the login information, and the payment method
For you gamers out there, do not forget Twitch and instructions how to stop any monthly/yearly renewal online gaming service (such as Game Pass).
A list of every monthly bill and how to pay each bill
If you have online login credentials for your bills, make sure to include them too.
A list of every investment account, login information, and a note on which ones should be stopped
A list and contact information for anyone you would need to reach out to if the other person passed away (work, CPA, estate attorney, etc.)
If other people rely on you, such as volunteering obligations, put contact information for them too.
Passwords for email addresses (this is especially necessary if you have two-factor authentication set up)
Since every situation is different, include anything else that you would want your partner to know.
It is good to have conversations with your partner about this to make sure nothing is missing.
Gathering all this information takes time and may take you a couple days to put together. However, once it is created, you need to always keep it updated.
Here is one trick I used when putting our financial binder together. I went through our prior bank statements and made note of any automatic reoccurring payments. Then, for each automatic payments we had coming out of our bank account, I verified that I had them listed in our financial binder.
If You Want To Go The Extra Mile
This is not necessary, but it is something I included in our financial binder. After including the above information, I have a list of specific things in a certain order that my wife should do. Such as, first, she should do "A". Second, she should do "B". And so on.
My goal is to take the thinking out of it as much as I can.
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