10 Things Someone Should Know In Case of Your Sudden Death

Although you likely already know these things from a common sense perspective, it’s likely that you haven’t yet done something about it. Death is an inevitability, and it does not always give due warning.

While there are many lessons to be gleaned from that insight, this particular list relates to the practicalities of carrying on your soul-driven business activities to the point that it’s at least a clean wrap up (if the business doesn’t survive beyond you). There are things that your survivors need to know. If you die suddenly, they may have to make decisions at a time when they are not emotionally able to do so.

To be responsible, consider preparing some information for them to use in the days following your death, even though we hope that will not be for many years to come. It can be left in a sealed, clearly marked envelope if you don’t want to share it in advance.

1. Who is to be informed of your passing, along with their contact info

You probably have many separate groups of friends who would want to know about your death, some of whom may not be known to your immediate family. Who should be told? How may they be contacted?

2. Passwords

In life you may guard your internet and computer access fairly carefully. However, there may be accounts to be closed, memberships to be ended, correspondents to be informed. Without the various passwords that enable you to access them, your survivors will either have to ignore it all, or pay a high priced consultant to dig around and try to bypass such security.

3. Money

Where are your bank accounts? What are your account numbers? Are there any accounts that you no longer use but that you have never closed? Credit cards? Do you have a brokerage account? A stockbroker?

4. Insurance

Insurance can be complex; if your folder contains all the information you’ve ever received, your survivors may not be able to tell what’s current. Keep your information up to date and label old policies as such to avoid potential confusion.

5. Safe deposit boxes

Where are they and how are they accessed? What are the contents? Note: don’t keep your will in your safe deposit box because the bank may seal your box until probate is granted, which can complicate things greatly if your survivors cannot access the will in the meantime.

6. The whereabouts of your will and information about your executor

Named executors may retire, legal firms change their policies, people who ten years ago agreed to be executors may no longer be in a position to do so. Even though you may not wish to update your will frequently, at least keep current on changes that may affect executing it.

7. Important papers

Are there other papers that people need to know about? Where are they and what do you want done with them? Are there papers, letters or photos among them that might be hurtful to your survivors and are you sure you want to keep them?

8. Funeral wishes

Decision-making at such an emotional time is difficult for the survivors. If you have strong preferences about your service, write it down. If you’ve made prior arrangements about the disposal and/or burial of your remains, make sure to have that paperwork available. If you would like a particular inscription on your headstone, or have other particular wishes, let people know in writing.

9. Organ donation preferences

Make sure that your preferences are clearly noted in case your organs could save or prolong someone’s life.

10. Any clarification of distribution of your property that’s not in the will

Wills usually dispose of major effects, but smaller items of sentimental value may not be mentioned. Again, put it in writing somewhere even if it doesn’t make it to your will.