After You Die: I Love You, and Here’s the Money

what happens to your money when you die

“Honey, if I die tomorrow tell my kids I love them, okay? Oh, and you too!”

This is the gem I whisper to my beautiful wife almost every other day in case, God forbid, my time runs out on this great planet. She hates it every time because it freaks her out (rightfully so), but personally, I sleep better knowing she and my kids will always know how loved they are.

The fact is, death is going to happen to us all, and we can’t control when. What we can control is how easily our loved ones can pick up the pieces after we’re gone. That’s why I’m prepared.

You know what else feels great to know? That my wife and kids will be taken care of financially should my demise come sooner than hoped. Not only that, I know that everything my wife needs to know regarding our finances is in one simple, easy-to-remember place. This includes:

  • account information
  • user names
  • passwords
  • my term life insurance policy
  • our budget
  • our net worth
  • our bills
  • and, because I’m a super nerd, a page specifically outlying how long we have left until reaching financial independence.

By the way, my family’s financial independence would be fast tracked with the help of term life insurance since it would automatically add a nice chunk of $350,000 to our savings – giving my family one last parting gift. My life insurance policy alone could wipe out all mortgage debt and then some, shall my wife decide she’s done paying for our house. If that doesn’t help you grieve better, I don’t know what would.

That’s what having your money organized gets you at the end of the day: peace of mind. Or, more specifically, peace of mind for your loved ones. Because the last thing they want to do when you’re gone is to figure out where all your finances are and pray they can pay the bills. I want my family smiling as much as they can when they host my farewell party (that’s right, I said party – who likes funerals?), and knowing their financial well being is taken care of will better help them facilitate this.

So, where is all this information that trusted people in my family can access?

Well, it’s in our safe.

Along with a sticky note that holds the password to both my computer and the encrypted master spreadsheet aptly titled “Money Snapshot.”

This money snapshot features the following tabs:

  • account usernames/passwords to all financial institutions we use
  • account usernames/passwords to all bills/services we use
  • our current net worth breakdown (which gives a quick overall snapshot of how our finances are doing all around)
  • our budget
  • our early retirement/financial freedom forecast

In a nutshell, everything you need to know about our money is in one safe and secure spot. This gives all parties access to it not only when I fly off into the heavens (both my wife and my parents know the combo), but also helps keep my better half in the loop shall she ever want to look into – or learn – more about our finances at any given point of time.

Have you done the same?

Sure, maybe a safe with all your information isn’t for everyone. An alternative, and arguably even more secure option, would be to keep this same document in a bank or credit union’s lock box. With this route you give all trusted guardians authority to access the unit. I am such an authorized individual on my own parents’ account. And, God forbid all family members are wiped off in a zombie attack, hopefully a member of the bank coming back from vacation could allow access to the next blood relative in your line.

Oh, and speaking of zombie attacks, it’s not a bad idea to keep a wad of cash in your safe/lock box either in case you die. We personally store $500 in all denominations just in case of a severe emergency, which you only need to save up once and then leave be for hopefully the rest of your life. Sure it loses value with inflation and what not, but in the event you need to crack it, the last thing you’re going to think is damn, this is worth less from inflation!

Now: Go out! Take charge of your money and what you can of death! Create a “Money Snapshot” of your own, put it somewhere safe, and then let the trusted people who need to know about it access it easily. And maybe throw in a couple of happy pictures of y’all too in case whispering sweet nothings wasn’t your strong suit while alive. But fair warning, it’s way more fun while you’re alive.

J. Money is the voice behind Budgets Are $exy, a personal finance blog that won’t put you to sleep. 

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“After You Die” is a series we’re hosting on the Haven Life blog to help raise awareness around, well, what actually happens when you die and what you should consider planning while you’re still living. Our team and guest bloggers will tackle topics like: handling your social channels, what happens with your life insurance policy, how to handle your money and more. Remember: talking about death won’t make it happen sooner. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC 042017 [OK1] and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527.

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