USU Extension: Essential Life Documents

Would they be able to come in and get bills paid and work done in your behalf without having to spend hours trying to figure it all out? For these and many reasons, it pays to have your important information organized and at your fingertips. It’s time to prepare your Personal and Financial Information Binder.

USU Extension Weber County’s Teresa Hunsaker, Family and consumer Science Educator, talks about what you need.

Here are questions you need to ask?

Do I have copies of all my important information?

What people do I need to call to get back on my feet?

Can I remember all my important information

How much will it cost me to get new copies of all my essential documents?

Do others have copies of all my important information.

Having this information accessible in a notebook is one format that many people are finding beneficial. It takes only one disaster to make you realize how important it is to gather all your family financial records in one place. Unfortunately, too many people put off this important task until it’s too late – when they have only a few minutes to leave their home quickly. The answer: compile a financial notebook.

Would someone else know where your checking and savings accounts are held, what credit cards you hold, who your financial adviser is, where you safe – deposit box is, where you investments are held, who your beneficiaries are or whether you have policies that entitle your dependents to death benefits.

A financial notebook doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be as simple as a three-ring notebook that serves as a road map for you and your loved ones.

What kind of things might you include in a financial notebook?

Account information: Account numbers and contact information for credit union and brokerage accounts

Estate planning and legal documents: Wills, trusts, advance directives, powers of attorney, letters of instruction, funeral instructions

Family information: Family members and contact information, education records, employments records

Financial documents: Cash-flow statement, net-worth statement, spending plan, loans, copis of tax returns.

Insurance and health records: Copies of all insurance policies for auto, hom4owners/renters, health, life, disability and long-term care

Inventories: Household inventory, safe-deposit box contents, wallet contents

Personal records: Financial goals, location of important documents, and copies of certificates – birth, adoption, citizenship, marriage, divorce, death

Property records: Vehicles, real estate and investments

Retirement planning documents: Pension benefit statements, Social Security benefits statement and tax-deferred and individual retirement annual statements.

Keep your financial notebook in a safe place, such as a fireproof box at home that you can quickly grab in an emergency.

Download forms here to help you get started.

For more information about this or any consumer issue, call USU Extension Weber County at (801) 399-8200 or online at If you are interested in buying a completed binder through your local USU Extension department, you may do so for $15 for each binder. Go online to local county) to find out how to pick up your binder in your local area.

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