Life Admin: This Checklist Should Be Your Priority
I was in secondary school when my father had a heart attack while driving me home from school. I was the only person in the car with him, and I remember how scared I was. Thankfully he survived, but that incident shook me because I couldn’t help thinking, “What if?” What if my father hadn’t pulled through? Where would that leave my mother, my siblings and me? This incident woke us up to the reality that anything can happen at any time. We needed to be prepared for the worst, just in case.
Now that I’m a parent myself, I don’t want to put my husband or kids in the same position of worry. As parents, at one point we all need to ask ourselves: If anything happened to us, do we have everything in place to protect the people we love? Would they know what insurance plans, bank accounts, and assets we have, or would they be completely left in the dark?
It's important to make sure our family has the financial protection and information they need, should the unfortunate happen. That’s why it’s crucial to sort out your “life admin” and guide your spouse on where the finances are, in case of emergency. Preparing a financial checklist for death is a form of care for your loved ones as it avoids burdening them with hunting down your insurance policy and other key information in an already difficult time.
Here is an essential guide on what to include in your financial checklist for death and why. Download our handy reference sheet and start your own list today.
1. List all insurance plans you have bought
If some emergency should befall you, your spouse/kids would need to access your insurance policies as quickly as possible so that they can deal with the situation fast and without having to worry about whether or not they can afford it. But does your spouse know where the necessary documentation is located, how to access it and who to call?
Alarmingly, in many cases, spouses do not have the necessary information on each other’s life insurance plans. A recent study^ on couples in revealed that:
- 90% of couples surveyed knew their partner had a life insurance plan, but only 15% of them knew the full plan details.
- 7% of people surveyed didn’t even know whether or not their partner had a life insurance plan.
- 80% of them agreed that it’s important to know their spouse’ life insurance plans (to be prepared in case of mishaps and to have peace of mind knowing they are sufficiently covered).
- But 40% of the same people surveyed said they would not proactively share details about their own plans with their spouse – with some of the primary reasons being that they think it’s “suay” or that their partner need not know. However, this is not the case.
For example, if you should meet with an accident or require medical intervention and are not conscious to provide your own insurance information, your spouse or kids would need to know key details about your policy and who to contact. It’s important that insurance information should be listed first in your financial checklist; in times of emergency, your insurance information is what your family will need to reach for first. Under the insurance category, list what insurance plans you have bought for yourself or others. Then include the relevant information, such as:
- The insurance company and policy numbers
- What the insurance policy is for, in layman’s terms (i.e. for your life, house, hospital bills, car, helper, etc.)
- Your agent’s name and contact (if applicable)
- Where your policy documents can be located in your house (if applicable)
2. List relevant financial information that only you would know
How many married couples would struggle to find each other’s financial information such as accounts and assets if an emergency happened? Are you one of them? Caring for your loved ones means allowing them to be aware of what assets, investments, and debts you have, so that they can take this information into account when decided how to move forward with their lives without you, should the unfortunate happen.
In your checklist for preparing for death, include important financial information so that your family will be able to ascertain where the family stands financially. This financial checklist can also help them obtain cash for their immediate needs, while ensuring they do not miss any important payments and incur any late fees or privileges that they currently enjoy.
- What banks you have accounts in and how many accounts you have with each bank
- Any investment or savings products you may have purchased (e.g. shares/stocks etc.), as well as valuable items and assets
- Any debt or recurring costs that would need to continue being paid (e.g. mortgage, car, helper, etc.)
3. Include your will, advanced directive or living will if you have one
A will allows you to decide who will benefit from your estate – another step to protecting your family’s financial future. If you have children or family who depend on you financially, consider having one made. Without a will, the law decides how your estate is passed on, which may not be aligned with your wishes.
An important step in preparing for death is to inform your loved ones where to locate your will. This makes life much easier for them; otherwise, the process of finding your will can cause unnecessary stress in an already difficult time.
4. List where to find your passwords, medical information and other considerations
When it comes to preparing for death financially, don’t forget to include other miscellaneous considerations such as your passwords and accounts. Providing this information for your family allows them to access your important documents and items after you’re gone. It also allows them to deal with your social media accounts appropriately and terminate any subscriptions (eg. Netflix, phone bill, etc.).
Preparing for death properly means covering all the bases to make it easier for your family to heal and move on after you’re gone. To that end, expand your checklist by including the following:
- Passwords/PINs for safe deposit boxes, safe codes, online logins to access banking or insurance details, etc., or where to find a list of them;
- Social media account details
- Subscriptions and other accounts, for instance, Netflix subscriptions, magazine subscriptions, etc.
- Other miscellaneous considerations such as medical information, funeral details or wishes, important personal or business contacts, location of miscellaneous documents such as birth and marriage certificates, etc.
Leaving such miscellaneous considerations and wishes unknown may cause undue stress and guesswork for your loved ones (eg. when they have to medical decisions in the event that you’re unfit to; when planning the funeral, etc).
5. Decide when and how to share your financial checklist
You can share your financial checklist with your spouse or adult children at any time, but it would be good to share it as soon as you can – particularly before going through any higher-risk-than-normal activity, such as travel or major surgery (parents, if you are both travelling without the kids, be sure to leave your list with a trusted adult in case anything should happen while you’re away).
For instance, the night before my father-in-law was to undergo surgery, he sat my husband down to share his financial checklist.
“I’m not being morbid,” my father-in-law said reassuringly when he saw the look on my husband’s face. “It’s just a part of how to financially prepare for death. Just in case. This is good for you to know and you can ask me any questions.”
Afterward, I asked my husband how he felt. “At first it made me uncomfortable because I didn’t want to think about it, but I’m glad my father still insisted on running me through everything,” he said. Being financially informed made my husband feel calmer about what to do if anything happened, taking out the guesswork.
Make sure your family is well-protected
Having life insurance is essential for protecting your loved ones. Income’s life insurance plans can reduce your family’s financial stress, ensuring that even in a time of grief, they can have more peace of mind financially. You will never benefit from your life insurance coverage – yet, having this coverage ensures your family is well protected in such unfortunate circumstances. If this is not true care, I don’t know what is.
Even if you are already covered, make sure to periodically review your cover with your financial advisor, and keep your policy up to date through different life stages as your family’s needs may change at each point.
The question, “What happens to my family if I die?” is a difficult one, but at the end of the day, it's best to prepare them for the worst.
^The research, commissioned by NTUC Income, represents the views of 329 Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents (PR). The research was conducted online amongst married adults aged 25-49 years old. The research was conducted by Nielsen between February and March 2019.
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor.
This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.