Leaving a Trail

This is a guest post by Dave, is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any.  Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

One of my main jobs at home is to manage our household finances.  Currently this is a somewhat boring exercise as it amounts to paying off our house as quickly as possible.   Once a month I set up the mortgage prepayments and watch the balance decrease slowly but steadily.  On a whole, I make the majority of the financial decisions that take place in our house, generally in consultation with my wife.  My spouse is not really aware of the exact mechanics of such things as our insurance policies, my company pension, my investment accounts or my various bank accounts.

As of yet, we have not created Wills – this is something we will be doing in December, when I have completed my current accounting course and have time to do something other than study.  At this point in our marriage, we really don’t have much in the way of assets to disperse.  In a previous discussion with our lawyer it was explained to us that a Will is more useful in dispersion of assets outside of the marriage (family and friends) to meet our wishes.

Besides a Will, I am creating a list of names and numbers for my wife to use in the circumstance that I am unable to provide them.  With this list, my spouse will be able to get in touch with all individuals who have assets that she can get at.  Over time, as we invest more money, I hope to be able to teach her why these investments are made and the strategy behind this, but for now just getting her access to the funds should be enough.

In an age where money can be placed in a myriad of locations, it is important to leave a trail so that people in your life are able to access your assets.  Even outside of your spouse, others noted in your Will should be able to find your assets easily.  This can be done via a search of your SIN number, but a regularly updated document would be much easier to update and would provide one place that people involved can easily resolve estate questions.

This isn’t really something that I’m super excited about (which is probably why I don’t have a Will) but it is important.  In a situation where I am not necessarily dead, but am unable to provide details to my spouse, I would hate for her to have to hunt for money that is rightfully hers.  For the ten minutes it would take, I would know she would be able to find all of our assets quickly and easily.

Perhaps my houses finances are unique because we keep everything completely separate, but I’m wondering if anybody else has created a reference document like this?  If so, where do you keep it (we’re thinking fire-proof safe)?

3 thoughts on “Leaving a Trail”

  1. I rent, and I’ve always made sure that my landlords know where my insurance papers are in case I land in the hospital. They also know about my master phone list, and to whom my dog should go if something happens to me, whether temporarily or — gulp — permanently. My brothers also know where I keep my papers.

    I have an old and trusted friend to whom I give temporary power of attorney (plus copies of documents, bank account numbers/passwords — note I said “trusted”!) when I’m outside of the country for any length of time, and who is known to various family members.

  2. we made up a paper document(not on the computer) that listed contact names and numbers (lawyer, accountant, broker, insurance agent), passport and credit card numbers and a list of all our bank accounts and investment accounts. We made 3 copies–one to keep for ourselves in a fireproof safe, one for my parents and one for my oldest child. (23 years old.)

  3. Similar, paper copies in safety deposit box and a copy with my Mom. If you are incapacitate (temp. or permanently) access to the SDB can take some time, thus a copy with someone you trust. I’ve been thinking about a fire proof safe in the house for a while – maybe a Xmas present for myself?

    Power of Attorney is also important as your spouse may not automatically be in a position to make choices for you if you are seriously injured.

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