View Full Version : Master Information Document

1-18-11, 10:26pm
Trent at The Simple Dollar advocates preparing a document like this.


My worry about making this and giving it over to my parents, who aren't super careful about this kind of thing. Yet they would be some of the ones that would be needing it in, well, the event that it's needed!

Anyone ever made a document like this? Advice?

1-18-11, 11:46pm
Yup....I have all of our personal, banking, etc. information written out and locked up safely (you certainly don't want this kind of information in an unlocked file cabinet somewhere). It is important to keep it up to date though and while it can be a royal pain to do, I feel it is well worth it for the peace of mind. The executor of our wills knows where it is kept and can access it when the time comes - hopefully not too soon. :)

There is just so much to do when someone dies and it makes things so much easier if everything is at the fingertips of the person in charge. When hubby and I married (11 years ago), he wrote me a letter of what to do in case something happened to him. He gave it to me to read over and then while I looked at him with a stunned look on my face he calmly explained that now we were going to lock it away and forget about it. I was horrified at the time, but I know that if anything did happen to him (and it better not or I'll kill him :~)), I would just have to get the letter and start following his instructions.

iris lily
1-18-11, 11:46pm
Our net worth statement lists all of our financial account numbers. I leave it laying around in a bedroom drawer. Slap me!

But the other stuff, credit card accounts--nope. Honestly, I don't worry aobut online accounts although yes I do have most of them written down, but they are social stuff although I suppose someone could conscript my paypal or ebay account.

Maybe, when I get thorugh my family photo project, I'll start up this project to co-incide whenDH updates our net worth statement.

1-19-11, 8:14am
Yes, we have everything, including a will, living will, health care proxy, the contents of our wallets, copy of our vehicle titles and house papers all together. Also, I included account numbers and contact numbers for our money. I did a whole house photo inventory, taking pictures of the contents in each room- if we ever had a fire or were robbed I wouldn't even know what was taken before doing this. I also scanned in every photo in the house and put it on a disc.

If either of us had a serious medical condition that needed continuous care I would also get a copy of my medical records and scan them onto a disc.

All of this info is in one place and the kids know where it is and how to access it. I did give everyone a copy of the photo discs. I am thinking of getting one of the kids to get a safety deposit box so we can give him a copy of everything but I haven't done that yet, as I would like a copy of everything outside the house in case of flood or fire. He may have a safe and if he does I'll just give it to him. It really didn't take that long.

1-19-11, 8:17am
I keep all this in a spreadsheet that resides in a usb drive/memory stick. It's kept in a particular place in the house. People who need to know have been told what to look for. There's also a paper copy in the safe-deposit box that I update once a year, after I update the electronic copy. Our accounts don't change that much, so an annual update is plenty.

For any PC that accesses the internet, I *don't* keep this kind of information on it. And if I do want to plug the usb drive in, I make sure the network is shut off first and I've run a virus scanner recently.

Note that the referenced web site mentions a will as part of this document. That's dangerous: a will is a document particular to state of residence and needs to exist on a separate piece of paper. The master document needs to point to where the will is kept! Same for durable powers of attorney, health care directives, etc. Take a careful look at what your state requires for each document and manage them appropriately!

1-19-11, 9:24am
There's a book called When I'm Gone that walks you through EVERYTHING that someone would need to know. All you have to do is fill in the blanks. Not very expensive, but very worth it.

1-19-11, 10:51am
As the executor of my parents estate, my attorney father updates all of this every 3 years for me. I need to follow his good model! I appreciate knowing about these resources, thank you.

1-19-11, 12:56pm
This is a really good idea. I will do this, and plan to make my parents do it too!

1-19-11, 1:15pm
We have a will.a living will and the lawyer keeps all the copies.Our 2 children know about accounts and investments.Makes life pretty easy and it's some thing you just have to do and update evry 2 years.

1-19-11, 9:38pm
My father has given my sister and I a similar document, which will be very helpful. I've not made one. However, all my accounts and their online passwords are stored in a Keepass password vault. My SO has the password to my computer and the vault and knows where on my computer to find the vault. If he needs to he'll be able to access it and from there get all my account numbers and info. Pretty much the same goal has been accomplished, but it's in an encrypted file on my computer.

Back to the OP, giving your parents the password to your password vault and instructions on how to get into it if ever needed would be a good way to give them access to the info only if/when the time comes that they need it. Especially since you could always change the password in the event that they lost/gave it away to someone.

KeePass is a piece of freeware that I highly recommend. It generates random secure passwords, stores them encrypted, and can be put on a USB thumb drive to easily transport. http://keepass.info/

1-19-11, 10:24pm
Interesting approaches, everyone. Thank you so much.

@Jonathan, very interesting point about the will. I never would have known that. It is another item on our new year financial clean-up list.

@flowers, wow! That's a lot of work. But you have also raised the first reason, for me, to scan photos and put them on a disc. If your house were to burn down and that disc were in a safe deposit box, you'd be covered.

1-19-11, 11:49pm
I have tried and tried and tried to get my parents (well, actually my dad) to write all this information down so in the 3 days I'd have as bereavement leave to take care of everything I'd be able to at least make a decent start rather then spending those three days plowing through the Leaning Tower(s) of Paper that my dad calls Important Paperwork. Important Paperwork includes articles he cut out from the London Times some 15 years ago with the intention of scanning it and saving it somewhere for posterity's sake. Yeah. Right. Meanwhile, could you get me a list of your accounts please???

We have all account info on two encrypted thumb drives (just in case one goes bad). We also keep a list of the 1001 passwords/login info you need for the various accounts. We were considering moving it to an online backup solution as an encrypted zip file, but DH is leery of the security (FWIW, I consider this safer than our current solution, but DH disagrees . . .)

1-20-11, 7:01am
Interesting approaches, everyone. Thank you so much.

@Jonathan, very interesting point about the will. I never would have known that. It is another item on our new year financial clean-up list.

@flowers, wow! That's a lot of work. But you have also raised the first reason, for me, to scan photos and put them on a disc. If your house were to burn down and that disc were in a safe deposit box, you'd be covered.

With the will and other legal documents Jonathan is 100% right- you need to make sure that you follow the laws about documents. It cost less than $400 to have everything done- I imagine it could cost more depending on the complexity. Once you have children it becomes very important (ie guardians) and once your kids marry and have children these documents need to be revisited. But it doesn't do any good if your kids have no idea what attorney you used and where these documents are.

Actually it wasn't a lot of work. After Katrina when people said they were most upset about losing photos that got us into action. We got a nice scanner and put a pile of photos next to it and just scanned them in a half hour or hour at a time. I had my childhood photos and we got DH's and within a few months did them all.
The house inventory only took a few hours to do.

I think what might help is to figure out the most likely scenario that will happen and tackle that first. Could you replace the contents of your purse or wallet easily? If your house burned or was robbed would you even know what was in it? Many people live in areas that could be evacuated or have extreme damage due to hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires etc. We have train tracks less than a mile from our house and three nuclear power plants less than 25 miles away- I can't imagine anyone is free from the modern day hazards of life. It gives us great peace of mind to know that we have done all we can to make it as easy as possible to deal with such scenarios as easily as possible.

1-20-11, 9:35pm
Another thing I did recently was go through and make a spreadsheet listing all the phone numbers in my cell phone. I don't store people's numbers anywhere else so it would be a real pain to recreate, and some of the numbers would just be lost if my phone died or got lost or whatever.

As for an inventory of our home belongings I actually just went around with the video camera one day and room by room video'd stuff while describing it (ie, 14 dress shirts and 7 dress pants in bedroom closet. Bedroom furniture set, purchased for $1500 from Bob's discount. Etc.). It's imperfect, but would be a good start and at least jog our memories if the building ever burns down and we need to file an insurance claim.

As others have done, my next big project along these lines is photo scanning. We have several shoe boxes of photos going back to when we were both kids and like others have mentioned, I'd hate to lose them. Dad threw out all the slides from my childhood, thinking no one cared, and I'm still bummed.

2-5-11, 8:32pm
In my case all of that information is either in the portable file thingy or my wallet. Since my potential executor is an experienced adult, I don't feel a need to put it all on one page anywhere. He'll figure it out.

2-5-11, 8:36pm
Actually, reading it more closely it sounds downright dangerous to disseminate to so many peoiple. Why? it will only be needed in the event of your death or unconsciousness, in which case the only one who needs it is your POA or executor, who can go in your house and GET it when needed. Not have it lying around a bunch of other people's houses.

2-7-11, 8:27am
Your phone may be able to export a .vcf file which you can then import into a word processor or text editor of some sort to manage. As long as you can get the file off the phone somehow (upload to somewhere or USB to your computer), you're good to go.

Float On
2-7-11, 9:40am
I have one (master list) but it is really out of date and I seriously need to get that updated within the next couple of months. I take care of everything business wise and my husband has no clue as far as passwords and in 20 years has never once visited our safe-deposit box. I have a copy of my parents master list and they have a copy of mine so I need to suggest to them that its time for an update as well.