Death Folders

A death folder is a folder that you can (and should) create to help your loved ones after your death. It's essentially a folder outlining your assets, debts, and bills, enabling your survivors to handle your estate much more quickly and easily. Specifically, this is to help them terminate all accounts in your name, pay any outstanding debts you have, and collect all of your assets so that your estate can be handled properly. Additionally, it's a useful tool to take stock of your circumstances in terms of budgeting and planning for the future. 

To create this folder, you just take a single statement from each item, and include it as a page. This can be done digitally or on paper - the important thing is that people be able to find and access this after your death - it doesn't help anyone if it's buried in your computer or hidden away in your home. It should be kept either in an obvious location, like a filing cabinet, or you should expressly tell your executor exactly where it will be located. 

WHAT TO DO

1) Assets – for your assets, begin by noting all assets that are titled. This includes real estate, financial accounts, stocks, cars, boats, trailers, and the like. It’s important that these all be noted, because the title needs to be transferred from your name to your beneficiaries. Next, list all property that’s not easily found in your home. That could include property in a storage unit (give identifying information and an address), a safety deposit box (give the location of the key and the address of the bank), hidden under a loose floorboard in your house, or anywhere else where it won’t easily be found by your executor.

2) Debts – generally, when you die, your debts have to be paid before your executor can give property to your beneficiaries. As such, it’s really helpful if your executor knows exactly where to find these debts, so that they can be handled quickly and your property can be distributed.

3) Bills – any services or subscriptions that are in your name will either need to be switched to someone else’s name or cancelled. There’s no need for your estate to pay Verizon ninety dollars a month after you’ve died, and the easiest way to prevent those bills from piling up is to cancel them quickly. To do this, keep an eye on your mail for three to four months, and make a copy of a single bill from each account that you pay. Also, don’t forget to include online statements; it’s a good idea to go through your credit card and bank statements and identify any bills you have set up to pay automatically.

The exact contents of everyone's death folder will be slightly different, based on what types of assets, bills, and debts you have. Below is a checklist that's intended to be helpful in listing the types of things you should include, but there may be other items that should be included in your own folder. 

CHECKLIST

1)     Assets

a) Bank Statements – checking & savings
c) Employer (Pay Stub)
d) Mutual Funds
e) CDs
f) Stock Brokerage Accounts
g) IRA/Retirement
h) Social Security
i) Life Insurance
j) Health/Disability Insurance
k) Veteran’s Benefits
l) Trust Interests
m) Annuities
n) Deeds to property
o) Car Titles
p) Boats, Motorcycles, RVs, ATVs
q) Other: ____________________
r) Other: ____________________
s) Other: ____________________
t) Other: ____________________
u) Other: ____________________
v) Other: ____________________

2)     Bills & Debts

a) Credit card statements
b) Car payments
b) Car insurance
c) Mortgage
d) Electricity
e) Natural Gas
f) Water
g) Trash
h) Sewer
i) Cable/Internet
j) Phone
k) Cell Phone
l) Magazines/Newspapers
m) Property Tax
n) Lawn/Pest
o) Internet Services/ Subscriptions
p) Club Membership
q) Child Care/Private School
r) Other: ____________________
s) Other: ____________________
t) Other: ____________________
u) Other: ____________________
v) Other: ____________________
w) Other: ____________________