Whether your financial status is very simple or highly complex, you’ve almost certainly got some key documents in your possession; these documents might include banking information, trust documents, or simply a compendium of online passwords and account logins.
It’s vital not only that you keep all of this information well-organized, but that you place it somewhere that’s both secure and also accessible to the people who might need to view it.
Should you pass away unexpectedly, or experience a health crisis that incapacitates you, it will be crucial for your surviving spouse or heirs to locate all the information they need about your financial affairs, as well as your estate planning. It’s in their best interests that you put all your financial documents somewhere that your loved ones can access.
At the same time, you don’t want to leave your financial documents somewhere that exposes them to potential theft, or to cyber-crime.
What, then, are the best ways to keep your financial documents safely stored? Here are a few practical tips from the Stonepath Wealth Management team.
Storing Your Financial Documents
Assemble your documents in a safe place. A home safe or a bank safe deposit box are the two most secure places to keep financial documents, such as life insurance policies, trusts, wills, deeds, account numbers, etc. If you don’t have access to a safe, invest in a fireproof, metal box that you can safely store in your home.
Get a scanner. It’s risky to have just one single copy of an important financial document. A good scanner will allow you to make a digital copy to place in a secure location, maximizing the ease with which your loved ones can find the information they need, and protecting you against loss.
Consider the cloud. It’s important to have physical copies of your financial documents, but you might also consider keeping digital copies stored in a secure cloud facility. Even something like Dropbox or Google Docs works well.
Fill in your family members. Be proactive in furnishing your loved ones with all the information they need to locate your financial documents. Tell them where the documents are stored, and what password or safe combination they need to retrieve those documents. Provide an inventory of all of your assets (bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, real estate, insurance policies, business operating agreements, buy-sell agreements, etc.), so that nothing is missed in the event of your death or disability. Make it a point to update this inventory list when you gain or dispose of an asset. Along the same lines, make sure that your financial documents include a list of your important financial contacts (financial advisor, estate planning attorney, accountant, banker, etc.), digital assets, and corresponding usernames/passwords.
With these simple steps, you can be sure that your financial information will be easily located by the people who really need it. With any questions, reach out to the Stonepath Wealth Management team any time!