We don’t often like to even think about death, much less prepare for it. But, when our loved ones are approaching the end of life it becomes the forefront of our minds. I’m sure we all have heard that we need a will to prepare a Will but what else do we need to do? 

How to get your affairs in order


Massive amounts of paperwork needs to be found and collected.

  • Social Security numbers
  • Bank account information
  • Safe Deposit box information and keys
  • Checkbooks and blanks
  • Credit card accounts
  • Pension information
  • Investment information
  • Stock & Bond information
  • IRA and 401(k) information
  • Stockbrokers/personal bankers
  • Health insurance information Military discharge papers
  • Mortgage documents,
  • deeds
  • Divorce/marriage/adoption/birth records,
  • wills
  • Cemetery plot deeds
  • Insurance policies –life, home, auto, etc.

Make a list of all of the above  Get pertinent contact information for all of the above. You will need it later.  Record policy/account numbers and gather online account logins and passwords. Take the time now to test those online accounts and bookmark on your computer — this is so much easier when your parent is still alive!

Call all banks, insurance companies and places where money and items are stored/invested I.E. life insurance policies etc. Find out what documentation they will require from you to access these accounts.

Sources of income

Learn about all sources of income

  • Salary
  • Pensions
  • Social Security
  • Military pay
  • Investments including properties, 401k’s, and stocks
  • Insurance policies
  • All sources of income!

If your loved one can’t provide you with this information you will have to do your own detective work. Check mail/email for bank statements. Log into online accounts when possible. Next, you will need to know where the money is going out. 

What financial obligations do they have?

  • Mortgages
  • Property taxes
  • Credit cards
  • Utilities and services
  • Insurance premiums
  • Phone bills
  • Car loans
  • Student loans
  • Timeshares
  • Automated billing
  • Etc…

After you have all the financial stuff organized be sure to go through the steps to act on behalf of your loved one. At some point they will be unable to manage bills and you will need to take over.


Genealogy and family history

You might not be thinking about it now but it will be very important later on. Life stories being passed down through generations creates a connection. If you want a loved one to live on forever the best way is to pass their memories down to your children. If they are coherent enough record sessions where you ask them questions. If you have access to some pictures you can use them as prompts. 


Also if you don’t have life insurance for your loved one another option can be burial or final expense insurance. These companies offer a much lower payout than life insurance but often have no medical exam requirements. The payout is often used to cover funeral and burial/cremation costs