Have you recently considered the implications of a loss? Get started today with these five lists.
Updated: Dec 20, 2019
An asset inventory is the easiest list to overlook and for all the wrong reasons. This one should include every object in your home of value. If it has a sticker with the model and serial numbers on it, it should be on this list. If it is something worth more than a few hundred dollars it should be documented as well.
The easiest way to document these items is to break out your phone and take pictures of all of the things that have value. Create a folder in a cloud-based file storage account named "Home Inventory" and upload all the photos there for retrieval later should it become necessary. This list would make dealing with your insurance company easier if a loss were to occur due to theft, fire, or other property destruction.
In the event you have chosen to put contingency plans into place in the case of your death this makes adding specific bequests much easier. Regardless of your motivation, while this may seem like a nuisance activity, it is much like changing the batteries in your smoke detectors. Doing it annually will allow you to sleep a little more comfortable in the event something happens. Additionally, if you have named a friend or family member as your executor, this list will make the administrative portion of your passing much more manageable.
Family and Friends
While you may have every one of your friends and family as a contact on your phone, can anyone else access this list? The answer is yes, it happens every day, but when it happens that way it isn't likely to be by people you would want to have the list. Can you or the people you would want to access the list capable of accessing it if your phone goes missing, is destroyed, or you become incapacitated? While you might be able to access the list from a backup location, provided you have established a backup, what if the unthinkable happens? Who would you want to be contacted if something were to happen to you? Have you marked those contacts with a 411 before their name in your phone? If you are using fingerprint recognition for access to devices, have you added a trusted person's finger to your device just in case?
Not having a list of these types of accounts is the number one reason for all the unclaimed property held by various states. You should have a list of every account involving money that you have ever owned. The amount of specificity would depend entirely upon where you choose to place this list.
If you choose to place this list into a cloud account, I would recommend limiting the details of the accounts to just the name of the company and the type of account. I would NOT put any account numbers or have any passwords, security phrases, or balances shown on a list placed in a cloud account. When it comes to online security, if you can access it, so can anyone else if properly equipped and motivated.
If you choose to place this list into a paper notebook that is then placed into a fire-resistant lock box or safe within your home you could add the account number and any other details you are comfortable adding. The irony in the situation is that you might have unclaimed property today that you are not aware of due to an overpayment of some kind for an account you may have closed. If you add in a move or two between the time you closed the account and the time the company ran an audit, they may not have any reasonable means of contacting you. It could be worth your time to revisit this list annually to see if any new reportings pop up.
Whether it is an email, social media, banking, insurance, etc. it does not matter. Any and every online account you have should be listed in a small notepad and ONLY a notepad for a multitude of reasons. Dying is one reason that would pop into most peoples' heads. But what if you developed a health condition that caused memory impairment or were in an accident that resulted in some form of head injury. Certain medications, vitamin deficiencies, and even some infections can also cause memory impairment, not to mention that dementia is not exclusive to the elderly population.
Having this list would not only serve you well should you be afflicted with a condition that compromises your memory, but if you review the list annually, you may also realize that your online exposure may be getting out of control. Just like your wardrobe, it could be time to purge those items that you no longer use or need.
Addresses, where you have lived, are becoming a more significant issue every day. Less than 100 years ago you might have lived at two to three addresses throughout your entire life. These days with the relative ease one can move about in most countries and even the world, this list could become significant. This list is another one that should live on paper.
Whether your locations have been due to educational pursuits, job opportunities, or extenuating circumstances, this list could begin to take up several pages in your notebook.
Personally, since graduating high school, I have lived at more than a dozen locations. Sometimes the change of address was just about improving living conditions, and other times relationship changes were the cause, regardless of your reasons, if you have adopted a more nomadic existence you should have this list.
There are several reasons for having this list. The first of which pertains to cleaning up your financial situation. This type of data often appears when one tries to pull a credit report as part of verifying your identity. The second reason for having such a list goes back to the unclaimed property discussion earlier. If you have been relocating with some regularity, you might consider revisiting the list periodically to verify that there is not some unclaimed property listed for you at a previous address. Why leave money on the table just because of some poor record keeping. Next on the list that readily comes to mind is a background check. If you have ever considered pursuing a job that requires you to have a background check perhaps related to gaining a security clearance you will need to be able to list all of your previous addresses. You don't have to work directly for the government to end up needing one. I would guess that there are probably just as many private contractors that have one as actual government employees.
I would hope that you don't ever actually need to use these lists I have described, but much like a condom (or gun) better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Who knows maybe in the course of creating these lists you might find a little piece of forgotten treasure. Get further details on these issues and more in Death and Taxes: Fallout from the Baby Boom.
Please let me know if this post gave you something to consider in the comments below. Good or bad let me know what you think, this is about starting a dialogue. If this post made you think about your own relationships or those of someone you know like and share it with them. If you are interested in other topics check out some of my previous posts and subscribe to get email notifications of new posts.