The gift giving season is rapidly approaching. May I suggest a thoughtful gift that will cost you very little money but could be a great benefit to your spouse and/or children at an important time in life? I am referring to a comprehensive inventory of your financial assets, legal documents, and other important papers.

Here are the things you might include:

  • Bank, Savings & Loan, Credit Union accounts: account numbers, registrations, location of statements, phone numbers
  • Investment accounts (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, etc.): account numbers, registrations, location of statements, advisor’s name and phone number
  • Location of hard assets (gold, silver, other valuables)
  • Insurance policies: policy numbers, location of statements, death benefit amounts, agent’s name and phone number
  • Legal documents: wills, powers of attorney, living wills, medical powers of attorney.  Include the location of these documents along with the name and phone number of your attorney
  • Location of safety deposit boxes and contents, real estate deeds, car titles, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage license, social security documents, other important papers

This is not an exhaustive list but should be enough to get you started. You will need to update this information periodically, but updates generally take less time than the original document. I have recently updated this information for my wife who appreciates knowing where everything is and who to contact if I am not here to help her. I have the satisfaction of knowing that I have given her a valuable gift. I encourage you to take the time to compile this inventory and to discuss it with your spouse.