Things change. Life happens. The best laid schemes of mice and men, as Robert Burns famously wrote, often go awry. Or, to tweak Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the plan’s the thing: We need to plan, to organize, to communicate.
But as you move forward in life, you may find that your important information is increasingly scattered here and there—some of it in the Cloud, some backed up on a hard drive, other bits handwritten in a notebook, and still others buried behind codes and passwords in your digital address book or contact file.
Nobody sets out to leave their heirs in a state of confusion. It’s everyone’s genuine goal to deliver to the next generation a set of well-organized, well-tended files and lists and phone numbers and account numbers. Alas, reality often intervenes, and our plan goes awry.
You Need a Future File
Exactly what is a “future file”? Imagine a scenario where all the details in your financial plan seem to be in order: Wills and trusts, estate instructions and a medical power of attorney—the cornerstones are set. All the ingredients are present and accounted for. You’re quietly congratulating yourself on the completeness of your preparations. And then, the unthinkable happens: You never get around to conveying the information to your heirs.
And so, you’ve created a mystery. You’ve bequeathed to your family and loved ones a challenge worthy of the savviest sleuths in a Nordic Netflix mystery.
Ah, but your future file would answer their questions!:
- What are your brokerage account numbers?
- What are your brokerage passwords?
- What about the life insurance trust that’s held away from your main custodial account?
- What’s the password for that insurance account?
- What are the phone numbers of your attorney, financial advisor, insurance agent, and accountant/tax preparer?
- What are the answers to the security questions on your websites, including where you have your banking, money-market, and CD accounts?
- What are the locations of all your assets—including your safe deposit box, if you have one?
- What’s the phone number of the folks who maintain your HVAC, so it can be shut down when the time is right?
- And more...