Creating a ‘Financial Life Essentials’ dossier: why you need one and how to do it

FinLife EssentialsMost large businesses have a manual or document that outlines certain procedures, so that if a new staff member steps in, they have some instructions to refer to. Believe it or not, it’s a great idea to do the same with your life! It’s not so much a manual, but more of a financial dossier that contains everything your significant other would need to know in the event of your death. Think of it as a “Financial Life Essentials” dossier, or FinLife Essentials.

Why you need FinLife Essentials

This isn’t about being morbid; it’s about being sensible and organised. If you’re the main financial controller in your relationship or family, would your partner be able to access your finances if they had to? Do they know all your account details, passwords, automatic payments and obligations?

If the worst does happen, making your finances as simple to understand as possible will be one less thing your family has to contend with.

How to collate your FinLife Essentials

It’s as simple as listing all your details in your dossier, and keeping it in a very safe and secure place. Here are some things to include:

  1. Personal information such as names, tax file numbers and dates of birth.
  1. Your current address and previous addresses, along with the dates you lived at each address.
  1. Employment history, including current and previous jobs and contact details for each employer.
  1. Medical information for each family member, including medical histories, medications, hospitalisations, current and past doctors and dentists.
  1. Bank account details and credit card details, including the issuing bank.
  1. Automatic payments, including from which account, how much, when and to whom.
  1. Superannuation and investment accounts, including balances, beneficiaries and contact details of the institutions.
  1. Insurance policies for health, life, car and home insurance, and the company contact information
  1. Real estate details, mortgage holders, valuations, tax information and details of the mortgage institution.
  1. Tax records for the previous two years as well as contact details for your accountant.
  1. Details of your lawyer and where your Will and estate planning is kept.
  1. Debt obligations, including the amount owed, to whom, interest rates and balances.
  1. Credit obligations, including the amount owed, who owes you and payment schedule
  1. A list of contacts that need to be informed in the event of your death, such as banks and insurance companies.
  1. An inventory of your valuable assets, including cars, boats, motorbikes, jewellery and any valuables in storage units.
  1. Data backup information, whether it is kept in paper files or on electronic cloud storage.
  1. Funeral arrangements, including details of funeral cover and any requests you have for your funeral and burial.
  1. Details of any personal letters you may have that need to be given to the recipient in the event of your death, and where these are kept.

We also recommend you keep a record of usernames and passwords for all your online accounts, including social media, online banking and email accounts. However, do not keep this information in the same document as the listed information above. A safer solution is to use a secure service such as 1password, which offers bank level security.

It’s important to review your FinLife Essentials once a year to update any details that have changed. Having FinLife Essentials in place helps facilitate important conversations, and will provide peace of mind for everyone involved in the event of someone passing away.