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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

What If? An Inventory of Financial Accounts Can Help

Are you the one in your household that pays the bills and manages your investment accounts? If so, would someone else be able to step in and take care of your finances if you couldn't? Does someone know which financial accounts you have, and the passwords or account numbers needed to access them?

Planning ahead for times when you can't manage your finances can be very helpful to significant others and family members. A temporary illness or hospitalization may mean that others need to help out. While it may seem overwhelming and depressing to consider plans in case someone is incapacitated or dies, on the other hand, it can make life much easier for significant others when plans are in place.

Too often assets go unclaimed because family members aren't aware of financial accounts. A helpful tool is an inventory of financial accounts including assets (amounts owned) and liabilities (amounts owed). For each asset or liability list the account number and/or password, the financial institution it is affiliated with (including name and address), and the dollar amount.

Each of us has different kinds of assets. Consider these assets when making your own list: checking and savings accounts; 401(k)s or other job pensions; IRAs; mutual funds, stocks, bonds; certificate of deposits; life insurance policies; annuities; safe deposit boxes; real estate property. A list of liabilities is also helpful to family members trying to finalize an estate. Consider listing loans such as car, student, installment, and mortgage loans as well as credit cards. Download a free chart from University of Illinois Extension to use for your financial account inventory list.

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