Everyone needs an ‘If I Die’ book of information to help heirs



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ngs are open to the public and are held the second Thursday of each month at the government center in Viera. For information, contact Cindy Short at 321-633-2076, 321-533-2026, cindy.short@brevardfl.gov, brevardf l.gov/HumanServices/CommissionOnAging or at 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, 8-106, Viera, FL 32940.

How can we best help our survivors?  Prepare an “If I Die” book of information that will guide them to taking care of your estate.  Your will and trust do not always have all of the day-to-day relevant information your family and/or friends might need.  They are often grieving and sometimes reeling from the emotional toll of their loss.  They might even be distant cousins without any knowledge of your life beyond annual Christmas cards.

The sections of your book of information should include:

• Legal: The name of your attorney and their phone number. Specify the location of the will or trust.

• Finances: The name of your financial advisor and their assistant with their phone numbers.  If you do not have a personal advisor, list the accounts, institutions, and phone numbers for your banking relationships.  Don’t forget to include retirement accounts, like IRAs and 401k accounts, as well as any annuities.  List the payments that are coming out of your checking account automatically each month.  Indicate the location of past tax returns and the name and phone number of the accountant who prepares them for you.

• Home: If you still have a mortgage, note the account and phone number for the mortgage company.  List your home insurance agent and their phone number.

• Insurance: List the policies that you have for health, life, automobile and long-term care.  Provide policy numbers, phone numbers and contact names.

• Funeral wishes: If there is a plan in place, let your plans be known.  List the funeral home and location of the documents for the funeral.  If you have written an obituary for yourself, place it here.  If you have a minister and church that you attend, list this information.  If you have no plan in place, write out your specific wishes.

• Notifications: There might be people that do not live nearby who you would like someone to notify of your passing.  A list of those people with their phone numbers would be the way to plan for this.  This is also a great place to write a personal letter to your children and even grandchildren.  They will cherish having this from you.

There are no rules for preparing your book of information.  It seems like common sense, but many true stories abound about the lack of information, which would have been so helpful, if it could have been located.  Make sure your book is labeled and keep it with your personal files.  Notify your family, attorney, financial advisor or even close friends of its location, so your efforts are not wasted.  This act of organization can take away worry and stress now and in the future for you and everyone who cares for you.