Tips on Creating a “Life After Me” Document

Once they have their estate planning in place, many baby boomers are creating a "Life After Me" document that lets them say goodbye to their family in a heartfelt letter that discusses the things that may have been too difficult to say in person.

6/20/2016A Place for Mom's article, "How to Prepare a 'Life After Me' Document," says that a touching goodbye isn't the only purpose of this document. It also provides you with the opportunity to leave critical information that you might not want to share until you're gone.

Make sure to add these types of pieces of information:

  • A list of people to contact in the event of your death and the location of your contacts info;
  • Burial arrangements, especially if prepaid, including cemetery deeds and detailed funeral arrangements;
  • Proof of loans and debts owed;
  • Receipts;
  • Family history, including the location of your family tree (if you have one);
  • Medical history;
  • Keys or codes to deposit boxes and safes;
  • The location of your personal identification, including birth certificate or proof of citizenship, driver's license, passport, veteran's identification;
  • The physical location of the documents that your executor of your will and your loved ones will need, such as a completed authorization to release any medical information, divorce papers, and escrow mortgage accounts;
  • Individual and group retirement accounts, including 401(k) accounts, pension documents, annuity contracts, life insurance policies, marriage license, property deeds, stock certificates, savings bonds, and brokerage information;
  • Vehicle titles;
  • Estate planning documents; and
  • Usernames and websites for your online accounts.

Keep a copy on your computer and label it "Open Upon My Death." You could also have a video file for your loved ones where you can say your goodbye in a video. In addition, place a hard copy in a sealed envelope labeled "Open Upon My Death" with your name on the front, stashed in your bureau or in your desk at home. And remember to tell your loved one(s) that this "Life After Me" document exists and where to find it. Tell them to open it only upon your death.

A "Life After Me" document can be a great testament to your family. It shows them how much you care, lets you have one final goodbye, and—most importantly—makes the aftermath of your death less stressful for those you love by ensuring your estate and related details are organized and easy to find.

Reference: A Place for Mom (April 28, 2016) "How to Prepare a 'Life After Me' Document"

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