Organize Your Financial Closet

In the early months of quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic, many households took advantage of the extra time at home to do some serious editing of belongings.  For older adults thinking about downsizing or simply making their homes less cluttered, safer, and more organized, the great pandemic purge has been a new beginning.  But one area many seniors avoid tackling is organizing their financial information, passwords for accounts, and end of life wishes. 

As many discovered during the great closet clean out of 2020, younger people don’t want to be burdened with fine china that requires hand-washing, sterling silver flatware that must be polished regularly, or a thousand other treasured knick-knacks handed down through generations.  Rather than worrying about who will get grandma’s figurine collection, families are more likely to appreciate a well-organized filing system with pertinent financial information clearly labeled.

Easing the burden on loved ones in case of serious illness or death is a strong motivator for older adults to “have one’s affairs in order”.  While grieving the loss of a loved one, a stressful situation can be significantly worsened when family is not able to access accounts or other important information because they don’t have all the details.  A simple list of passwords as well as assets, accounts, insurance policies, bills, debts, credit cards, lawyers, and banking information can be a huge relief for families.  A simple biography with a place of birth, important dates, and accomplishments can also prove useful.  

In addition to helping make end-of-life tasks less stressful for loved ones, putting in writing wishes for healthcare with an advanced directive, funeral plans, and how belongings will be distributed can give older adults a measure of control over what medical interventions will be carried out and how their end of life will be handled.  Although there are many online tools, and books about the subject, a simple binder or file folder with all your financial information can give older adults a sense of security and confidence knowing all will be at the fingertips of those left behind. 

Not sure where to start?  Check out Everplans for downloadable checklists and worksheets to help you begin to plan for the future.