There are those of us who are extremely organized, with every piece of paper labeled and filed. Others are borderline hoarders who are buried in piles of receipts, documents and other important pieces of information.
Most of us lie somewhere in the middle. We have all of our critical data saved — somewhere — though it might not all be together in one place. For some of us, organizing isn’t fun — and doesn’t come naturally. Plus, who really likes to think about preparing for their eventual demise? A funeral planning guide coupled with other meaningful documents could really benefit your family at a stressful time.
Preparing that “Big Book” for your loved ones is something you can begin working on today. What is The Big Book? The Big Book includes all of the information and documents your family or friends will need to carry out your final wishes and conclude any lingering business you have.
The Big Book can be something physical, such as a binder of documents or it can be a virtual book, safely held in the cloud. On the latter, there are dozens of businesses that offer storage in the cloud, and it would be wise to do some research before uploading all of your data. TechRadar posted a recent article listing some of the top storage programs, taking safety into consideration.
If you feel more secure with paper copies, it will be helpful to have a binder where all important data can be organized and quickly accessed. Your family might need to access your finances in order to finalize your funeral. It’s also a good idea to keep it safe, such as in a fire-proof storage box, and to have a point person who knows where The Big Book is and how to access it.
Here are some examples of information you should provide in your Book, though this list is not comprehensive. Use your own judgement as to what should be included, and consider speaking with your financial planner or attorney to get advice on what should be in your Box.
- Include your wishes for your funeral. At Phaneuf Funeral Homes & Crematorium, we will take you through each step of funeral planning, as we know how stressful making funeral arrangements can be for grieving loved ones to make these kind of decisions on a compressed timeline, as is typically required.
- Include your user name and passwords to all of your accounts.
- If you have life insurance, include information on how your next of kin will be able to get the benefit on it paid.
- Include a list of all bank accounts, credit cards, savings accounts and investments, and where to access them.
- If you own a business, include a document on what your wishes are for its future and who should be involved.
Freelance writer Erik Dewey has created a helpful, downloadable PDF document called The Big Book of Everything. It’s a very comprehensive document that you can use to chronicle your life. Your family may not require all of this information after you die, but this is a solid template to look at to see what is important to you.