Some people are very organized and have everything in order. Others of us have important documents or information scattered throughout every room in the house. If you do not already have an attorney or a financial advisor involved in the administration of your estate, it may be helpful to your loved ones to have an idea of where to find such things as are included in the following list:

Funeral Arrangements

If you have made prearrangements, set up funeral trusts, or have just jotted some information down on a piece of scrap paper, someone needs to know where it can be found in order to abide by your wishes.

Bank Accounts / Investments

Someone should be aware of the different financial institutions you have dealt with. Perhaps your children might know which local bank you go to, but would they be aware of an IRA established somewhere else?

Life Insurance

Policy numbers and, in some instances, the policies themselves should be available to the person you designate to handle your affairs. Be sure your beneficiaries are up to date.

Pension, Union Plan, Retirement Accounts

Often times, benefits may be available from a previous employer even though you aren't currently receiving wages from them.

Real Estate

If you hold the deed to your home, knowing its location could avoid a time-consuming search in the future.

Automobile Title

Titles and lien releases are needed for vehicles to be disposed of.

Safe Deposit Box

Who has access to your box and knows the location of your key?

Income Tax Returns

Copies of the prior year's returns may be needed to settle your estate and file the current year's returns.


If your loved ones do not have access to your will, they should know which attorney has a copy on file.

Birth Certificate

This may be needed for something as simple as the correct spelling of your name or verification of your date of birth.

Marriage Certificate

Your spouse or children may be required to submit this in some instances (such as to the Social Security Administration).

Veteran's Military Record

In order to receive any benefits due you, your next of kin may be asked to provide your discharge papers or DD-214 (separation document).

Cemetery Deed

Most cemeteries are very organized these days, but there are a few small cemeteries where the records have fallen into disarray. If you have a deed, it will eliminate any questions.

Active Credit Cards/Debts

It is important to notify any credit card companies or other credit providers of your death. This also applies to your health insurance companies.

Relatives and Friends to be Notified

A list of the names and phone numbers of those you wish to have notified of your passing may be the most helpful item you can leave behind. Even if you just put a star by the name in your address book it will help your family avoid forgetting someone who was important in your life.