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Storing important things where you and your heirs can find them

Posted by John Reed on

In the last five months, I needed to find a safe deposit box key and a marriage license. In each case, not being able to find either had the potential to cost me hundreds of dollars in the case of the SDB key and thousands of dollars in the case of the marriage license.
Apparently, if my wife predeceases me, one of her former government employers pays me a partial pension or some such. But that former employer noted that we have different last names and demanded to see the marriage license.

So I decided to research this whole situation in general. Documents you should store carefully and make sure you and your heirs can find them. With regard to my foreign bank accounts, I explained it all to my oldest son and told him to put the notes in his bank safe deposit box. He did not have one. “Get one,” we told him. He did.
I really need to do this with regard to ALL aspects of our estate. Here is my attempt to list all the ones the average person might have.
• all financial account statements [bank accounts, CDs, IRAs, 401(k)s, SEPs, credit cards]
• all saleable asset ownership records (deed, car title, guns, jewelry, art, coin collections, other collectibles)
• balance sheet
• will
• pensions you receive
• insurance policies—life, home, car, paf, umbrella,
• power of attorney if any
• living will if any
• mortgage and other loan documents
• state and federal tax returns
• bills paid
• passwords (keep in bank safe deposit box only; if in a home safe, a home invader could force you to open it) you would need some sort of secret place in your house to be able to refer to it evenings and weekends
• your final wishes
• social security number and documents
• keys including safe deposit box key, car keys, house keys, safe keys
• trust documents
• life event documents: birth certificate, marriage certificates, divorce decree, death certificates, adoption certificate, contracts, miniwarehouse
• household inventory
• estate documents from deceased family members
• combinations to safes
These should be in a fireproof safe if they are not in a bank safe deposit box. Also, in each place where I might look for such things, if it is not there, I put a note saying where it really is.
What did I forget and leave off this list?

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