Death is the one topic that nobody wants to talk about or think about for too long. It is an uncomfortable topic. Unfortunately, death is the one event that all of us will experience, only the timing thereof is uncertain. Death can cause emotional stress, heartache, grief, trauma, pain and financial strain. In many cases the loved ones are also left with the burden of complete chaos when somebody dies because the deceased affairs were not organised and up to date.
Spare your loved ones the additional burden of trying to sort out the chaos once you have passed away by maintaining a life file containing all the required documents they might need. Keep your life file at a safe place or file it with a lawyer / executor / family member who you can trust and rely on. Inform your loved ones where to locate the file. Keep the file updated.
This is a list of the basic items / documentation to keep in your life file where applicable:
- A copy of your ID document and driver’s licence
- A signed and updated copy of your will and living will / last wishes
- NB! Latest passwords or pins for phones, bank accounts, social media accounts, computers, laptops etc. Preferably keep a password protected file on your computer and external hard-drive containing all the necessary passwords and make reference in your life file where and how to locate this file
- Contact details of your bank / banker, financial advisor / insurance broker, lawyer, accountant, tax consultant, executor of any trusts, doctors and medical aid
- Contact details of your employer, manager and employee number
- Your marriage certificate
- A copy of your ante-nuptial or pre-nuptial contract (marriage contracts)
- Unabridged birth certificates for each member of your immediate family
- Copy of ID documents of the beneficiaries as per your will, if they are not part of your immediate family
- Any divorce and maintenance agreements
- Latest personal tax assessments
- Bank details of all bank accounts, credit cards, vehicle finance, loans, bonds
- Details of your investments, insurance (both long-term and short-term), pension funds, any trusts. Medical aid and gap cover
- Details of your funeral policies and a letter containing any wishes you might have with regards to your funeral arrangements
- List of all your debit orders, suppliers etc., due dates and amounts
- Title deeds of your residential home as well as any investment properties or business premises you own
- Copies of recent utility bills
- Car ownership documentation
- Contact details and copies of any lease agreements you might have
- If you own a business or are a partner in a business, all the required business documents – ownership, registration, tax and accounting records, list of big suppliers to be informed, contact details for big projects / clients currently working on to be informed.
This list is not a comprehensive list and you might want to add any other important documents or contact details unique to your personal situation. Start building your life file today and diarise regular dates in your diary to remind you to update your file. Spare your loved ones the additional stress and chaos by having an updated life file ready when you are no longer around.
Written by: Ronel Jooste