Facing the inevitability of death is a confronting reality that none of us wish to dwell upon. Nevertheless, it is a harsh certainty that demands our attention.
We hope that everyone reading this article is healthy with years of memories to come but it is important to have a just-in-case death binder, if something does happen. While it can be a bit uncomfortable putting a death binder together, it will save your family stress and heartache in the event of an unexpected death.
Below are 17 things to include in your end of life or death binder.
17 things to include in your death binder
1. Last Will and Testament: This legal instrument delineates your desires regarding the allocation of your assets, the designation of an executor, and arrangements for the guardianship of minor children. The absence of a will subjects your assets to distribution according to state laws, underscoring the importance of this testament.
2. Trust Documents: If you’ve set up a living trust, you’ll need to provide a copy of the trust documents to your trustee or successor trustee. This ensures the smooth continuation of the trust as per your intentions.
3. Advance Healthcare Instructions: It outlines your medical care preferences in the event of your incapacitation, covering aspects such as do-not-resuscitate orders, living wills, and the appointment of a healthcare proxy.
4. Power of Attorney: This legal document grants someone the authority to handle financial and legal matters on your behalf. safeguards your interests in the event of your incapacitation, providing a designated individual the power to make decisions in your best interest.
5. Insurance Policies: Ensure that your beneficiaries have access to your life, funeral, home and contents, and vehicle insurance policies and all related information necessary to make a claim.
6. Financial Information: A list of your bank accounts, super accounts, tax documents, and any other important financial information, including account numbers, and online banking login information. This is crucial for managing and closing accounts.
7. Investment Account Information: Document your investment portfolio, including brokerage account details and investment holdings.
8. Real Estate Deeds: If you own real estate, provide deeds or property titles to facilitate property transfer.
9. Vehicle Titles: Keep vehicle titles, as they will be necessary for transferring ownership.
10. Digital Account Information: Create a document with the passwords and login information for email accounts, social media, and other online platforms. This helps in managing or closing your digital presence.
11. Funeral and Burial Instructions: If you have specific wishes regarding your funeral, burial, or cremation, document them for your family. Some funeral homes have an option for you to pre-pay and plan your own service.
12. Organ Donation Documents: If you are or are not an organ donor, make sure this information is readily available.
13. Marriage and Divorce Documents: Copies of marriage/divorce certificates are needed to establish your legal relationship status.
14. Business Documents: If you own a business, provide information on its structure, assets, and any relevant agreements or contracts.
15. Safety Deposit Box Information: If you have a safety deposit box, make sure your executor or a trusted individual knows its location and has access.
16. Passwords and Encryption Keys: If you have encrypted digital assets or files, provide the necessary keys or passwords to access them.
17. Instructions and Letters: Consider leaving a letter of instruction to guide your family in executing your final wishes and settling your affairs.
Yes, a death binder sounds a little morbid, but, from a practical standpoint, having a well-thought-out and organised set of documents reduces the burden on grieving loved ones and allows them the space to grieve without being stressed about everything else. This preparation also helps in avoiding potential legal complications and ensures that your final wishes are honoured.
Emotionally, prepping for death with a just-in-case death binder allows you to express your preferences, providing a sense of control and peace of mind. It fosters open communication with family members, facilitating understanding and acceptance of the inevitable, and ultimately, it is an act of love and consideration for those who will be left behind.
What to read next
- 10 Tips for Talking to Children About Death
- What I Wish I Had Told Myself Before I Had Kids
- Understanding Private Health Insurance and What Cover Families Should Explore
For a twice-weekly dose of Mum Central, subscribe to our newsletter here.