Anyone that has dealt with the death of a loved one has likely had to endure the stress and uncertainty of how to proceed with getting their affairs in order. According to The Simple Dollar, taking the time to assemble a house book will answer a lot of specific questions about how a person would like things to be handled as well as arming the caretaker with all of the information they will need to get it done. It will include a master record of any and all assets and outstanding obligations that a person might have along with instructions on how to access them.
First, take an inventory of any accounts open in your name including everything from retirement savings to the library card. The most critical items on this list are 401(k)s, IRAs, Roth IRAs, and any annuity or other long-term income vehicles that have a beneficiary or can be transferred. Write down anything required to access those accounts such as numbers and passwords and, when possible, have a copy of any signed contracts, membership identification, or statements. Clearly indicate any relevant websites or secondary authentication that might be needed to login to the accounts online or transfer ownership.
Next, collect any legal documents and insurance information that family will need to present to the estate lawyer or probate court if there are any legal snags. This will include a copy of your will along with any documents relating to trusts if there are any. The most common type of insurance to be concerned with for the deceased is the life policy, and those beneficiaries will need to be explicitly indicated along with contact information for how to receive the funds. Along with basic life, there might also be a burial policy in place that has prepaid for those arrangements.
Third, consider all of the valuable assets in the house or safe that will be left to loved ones and collect any relevant serial numbers, combinations, and locations so that they can be easily found. If the items are a bit obscure, such as a comic book collection, it might also be a good idea to leave a few instructions on the best way to liquidate the valuables.
Lastly, consider the fact that loved ones will be going through this record during a time of grief. Leaving behind personal notes of wisdom and reassurance will likely be appreciated and timely. In any event, loved ones will undoubtedly be much better prepared to deal with the details of a passing with a house book at hand.