Sad but true: Life eventually ends. How can you make it easier on those left behind?

All Things Financial

Volume 17 No. 1, January 2011
By Charles P. Jones, CFP®

Recently we had one of our clients and friends reach the end of life far too soon and were deeply saddened at his loss. We had the opportunity to say good-bye to him and express our condolences to his friends and family.

We then began to hear the problems that the family was left with and the difficulties they were having attempting to find out the information regarding the many things we do in life that we do not share with others.

For example, we heard that he may have had a safe deposit box, but had not mentioned it to anyone. Now, the family has found a safe deposit box key, but they have no idea in which bank that box is located. Or if it is even still in use. And many other things we all don’t even think about.

For years many have heard me encourage you to do your estate planning: Make your wills, durable powers of attorney, trusts, medical directives etc., etc. But I haven’t always gone into the details: all those little things, such as where the safe deposit box is and who has rights to enter it, so here is a short list of those items you should share with those close to you.

  1. Safe deposit box location, key location and who has access.
  2. Username and Passwords:- your computers at home and work- mobile phone- various accounts at banks and- other internet accounts.
  3. Label keys:- all those loose keys in drawers – what are they for?- keys to your property, home(s) apartment, where are they?- home safe combo or key, where is it and where is the safe?
  4. List your active credit cards (and destroy any that aren’t active), if you get a recent ‘credit report’ that will list all that type activity and make it easier to notify those companies.
  5. Employee number(s) and contact information (phone numbers/names) at your employer.
  6. Who would you like to have notified? Make a list. i.e: family, friends, school alumni groups, specific newspapers and include the relationship with each person, such as ‘best friend in high school’ or ‘best man at wedding’.
  7. List all assets and where they are. This includes bank accounts, investment accounts with account numbers and do any pass automatically at your demise (that is are POD (payable on death) or TOD (transfer on death) accounts.
  8. Who should get specific items: jewelry, music/book collection, furniture, clothing, or artwork.
  9. And, obviously, what do you wish to have happen? How do you want to say good-bye? Burial and where, cremation and where your ashes are to go, memorial service or not and where? If there is to be a memorial service, how will that look and sound? Where will it be held? Who should be (or not) invited?

I hope this gets you all thinking and please send me more your suggestions so we can keep compiling a list to share with others. Much has been written on this subject and several books are designed for collecting this data, one such available from Amazon is Everything Your Heirs Need to Know by John Ventura, David S. Magee.

This is not a fun subject but “life” is a terminal condition and we must all face that.


  1. Dow to hit 38,820?
  2. To refinance or not to refinance?
  3. What’s the deal in 2011 for estate taxes?
  4. Don’t need to pay your taxes on April 15th this year!

Freddie Mac reports that mortgage rates go lower. It might be a good time to refinance with reported rates (3/1 arm) as low as 2.875% and 30 yr. fixed at 3.75% and 15 yr fixed at 3.25%. The big BUT is to check and see how much the closing cost will be. To get these rates you may have to “buy down” the rate by paying larger fees at closing. Is it worth the effort? Simply divide the monthly savings into the closing costs to determine the number of months till you break even. If you may not keep that property that long you may not want to refinance.

(Rates Source: & evaluated by Chuck Jones, CFP®)

2010 taxes: Not due on April 15, 2011? The federal return deadline will be Monday, April 18, because this year, Emancipation Day – the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act – is being observed on April 15. The holiday will be celebrated one day early because April 16, the actual date, falls on Saturday.

(Source: IRS )

Fact: There are only 5 out of a typical 18 investment choices in 401(k) plans that are non-stock funds.

(Source: Fundamental Index Newsletter)

Dow at 38,820 points? The Dow Jones Industrial Average is predicted to reach 38,820 points in 2025, according to Jeffrey A. Hirsch, editor-in-chief of the Stock Trader’s Almanac.

Increased Estate Tax Exemption of $5 Million and Lower Estate Tax Rate of 35%: On December 17, 2010, President Obama signed into law the “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010″ (the “Act”), thereby fixing the status of federal income and transfer.

(Source: Kiplinger Tax Letter December 2010)

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