Compile a One-Page Summary of Your Finances Today

A friend’s husband died 15 years ago. His death was sudden and my friend had little knowledge of the family’s finances. She learned an important lesson. “Write a summary of your finances,” she said. “All you need is one page.”

This is good advice and, though I had heard it before, I did not heed it. When our older daughter was killed in a car crash my husband and I hoped she had made a written summary of her finances and put it in her files or a safe deposit box. But there was no financial summary and we have spent the last nine months searching for her assets.

We did not want our remaining daughter to go through what we have been through. Today, I typed a one-page summary of our finances. Your summary may differ from ours, but it should still include some basic things. Give your adult children and selected family members copies of the summary. Ask them to keep it in a safe place. The following list will get your started.

1. Your bank. Write the name, address, phone number, and contact names if you have them. Be sure to include the number of your safe deposit box.

2. Lawyer. This is the lawyer who made out the will and has copies of it on file. If you have not made a will this may be the time to do so.

3. Mortgage company. If you have a mortgage list all contact information for the company and the number of your policy.

4. Home and car insurance company. List all contact information and the number of your policy or policies.

5. Stock broker. You may not have a stock broker, but if you do, list all contact information. Note whether you have actual stock certificates or electronic ones.

6. Financial advisor. Whether or not you have a financial advisor may depend on your age. List the name of the company, all contact information, and the person you deal with most often.

7. Life insurance company. In addition to contact information list the number of your policy or policies.

8. Any special arrangements. A friend may be storing goods for you or you may have loaned your piano to a relative. Note these arrangements and all contact information.

9. Valuables and collections. This category includes paintings, sculpture, rare books, china, silver, and various collections. Tell where these items are located and their estimated or appraised value.

10. Location of files. Note the exact location of your files — bedroom, office, family room, desk, etc.

This will really help your loved ones in case of emergency.

Your financial summary may also include a list of your credit cards, but not the numbers. Compiling a financial summary is picky, time-consuming work and that is why we put off doing it. Well, we have a summary now and will update it as needed. Our daughter is prepared for an emergency and all of us will sleep better tonight.

Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *