How to prepare an 'if I die' folder for your loved ones
It can be hard to think straight when a loved one passes away.
Going to work, caring for children, and even loading the dishwasher can become 100 times more difficult than before.
Life can be made even harder if a grieving person has to plan a funeral, trawl through paperwork and get to grips with their loved one’s finances.
Thinking about your own death is no fun, either. However, planning ahead and getting your affairs in order before the time comes can save your family stress and ensure your wishes are honoured when you pass away.
This is where an appropriately titled ‘If I Die’ folder can be useful. As the name suggests, this file can provide your family with a step-by-step guide on what to do next.
So, where should you start?
What should the folder look like?
Your If I Die folder could be physical, digital or both! It’s completely up to you.
First, think about what would work best for your loved ones when you pass away.
If you want to include sentimental items, a physical folder may be best. This approach will allow your loved ones to look through the documents and keepsakes together as if they’ve unearthed a time capsule filled with memories.
If your loved ones live overseas, or you’d like multiple family members to access the folder no matter where they are, a digital file may be suitable.
It may be safer too. The chances of a house fire or flood are slim, of course, but if a physical folder is damaged, it may be costly and stressful to replace everything inside.
What should I include in my If I Die folder?
Here’s a breakdown of the various documents that can make up your folder.
Will and estate planning details
We’ll start with the most important documents of all: your Will and anything else relating to your estate.
By clarifying where your Will and other estate planning documents are located, you can reduce the amount of red tape for your executors and beneficiaries.
If you have pension policies, investment accounts, investment properties or savings, keep details of these assets in your folder.
Other important documents might include:
- Birth certificates, marriage certificates and other relatives’ death certificates
- Insurance policies
- List of household bills
- Details of credit cards and personal loans
- Mortgage details (include the lender’s info, loan number and original loan amount)
Funeral, burial or cremation details
Make life easier for those left behind by clarifying how you’d like them to say goodbye to you.
Do you want to be buried, cremated or something else? You’ll be surprised at how many options there are these days, from direct cremation to having your ashes shot up into space!
Whether you want an elaborate funeral with all the trimmings, or you’d instead like your family to raise a drink in the pub and get on with it, outlining your wishes can save them having to figure it out themselves.
If you’ve prepaid for your funeral or have a life insurance policy covering the cost when you pass away, be sure to include these details in the folder.
Friends’ contact details
Do you have any friends who aren’t in close contact with your family members?
Jot down their details so those closest to you can reach out when you pass away.
That way, everyone can pay their respects, and no one is left wondering why they haven’t heard from you in a while.
It’s a good idea to record passwords for important accounts too.
We’d advise against writing these down - an online password manager such as LastPass or 1Password are a better approach. You can store all your passwords digitally and keep the details of your password manager in your folder.
Letters to loved ones
Your folder can include more than just the practical stuff. You might also include letters and photos for loved ones. These could provide them with comfort, reassurance and perhaps even an element of closure.
Thinking about death can be troubling, but by planning ahead and having some honest conversations, you can make your loved ones’ lives easier and leave a legacy to be remembered by.