The Documents You Need: List of Accounts

Along with your will and advance directive, a list of all your accounts, passwords, and contact information is vital for the people you leave behind. Although it’s simple to request a password you forgot, it won’t help your heirs if they don’t know where the accounts are in the first place or can’t access your email to retrieve the requests. The list could also be handy in the event of a major disaster – when you could be without a computer for days.

What to Include on Your List of Accounts
Your list should include all of the following items:

  • Bank accounts
  • Insurance policies
  • Credit cards (even store cards)
  • Investment and retirement accounts
  • Utility accounts
  • Escrow accounts
  • Driver’s license or state ID number
  • Social Security number
  • Mother’s maiden name

How to Create the List
First, empty the contents of your wallet onto your desk. Open an Excel document and label the columns Company Name, Account Type, Account Number, Website, Online Log-in, Password, Phone Number.

Now complete each field. For account type, a basic description like “401K” or “credit card” will do. If it’s an online account, enter the website address and your log-in. For a credit card, the toll-free number is enough.

For your insurance policies, you may also want to add a contact name or the emergency number in case you need to call them on the weekend or following a major disaster.

Each time you get a new account or change your password, update the list to reflect it. You could also keep photocopies of the fronts and backs of all your cards instead, but the list is more concise and easier to read.

Where to Keep the List
Ideally, you should have a copy of the list in your emergency box. You can seal it in an envelope labeled for emergencies or attach it to the back of your will. If you’re concerned that someone could steal the list and have access to all of your info, you could keep the list in a secure file on your computer and enclose the password in your emergency box. If you decide to do this, at least have a list of your insurance policies, account numbers, and phone numbers in the box in case you can’t access your computer during an emergency.

In most cases, your heirs won’t need your account information for the first few days after your death, so you could also keep your list of accounts in a safe deposit box. If you do that, ask your bank for a power of attorney or authorized agent form that gives your executor access to the box. Keep the key and completed form in the box. If you don’t take this step, your heirs may need a court order and locksmith to access the box, which can take a while. Again, keep your insurance info in the box for emergencies where you can’t get to the bank.

We’ve now completed the major documents you need for an emergency. Next week I’ll continue with a list of other documents and items that it’s nice to have, but aren’t absolutely vital. I’ll recommend how and where to store them, and which items you need most.

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