Organize financial documents and records

Plan for the Future

Financial records should be organized to make it easy for an Executor to review and manage these accounts after you pass. Those who manage life after loss will need a number of personal documents in order to finalize the administrative tasks required to settle a deceased's Estate.

To help this process, save each document in a safe place in the home, office, or secure online cloud service.

Additionally, catalog all of this information in a single document that outlines where everything lives so it is easily found by someone else.

Examples of common financial documents to store include:

  • Bank accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Annuities
  • Mortgages
  • Retirement accounts
  • Insurance policies
  • Cryptocurrency accounts

Helpful Tips


If there is no estate planning in place for a piece of real estate, such as a transfer on death deed naming your spouse as the person to take it over in the event you pass away, the real estate is wholly owned by you and therefore your estate. It enters that status in probate, during which time it is typically liquidated to cover estate expenses.

If a spouse or other party is also listed on the mortgage, the land deed, or will receive the property through a “transfer on death deed”, they will need to provide proof of this in order to take over the mortgage and/or property ownership.

An executor managing the affairs of a home that will not transfer directly per the deed or a transfer on death deed will need to provide a copy of the death certificate and their own short certificate.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If there are no heirs with rights to that property, estate funds might be required to pay the mortgage while probate is pending, during which time a spouse or other family members may continue to live in the home.


Most retirement accounts use beneficiary designation forms to determine who receives these benefits when someone passes. Contact the account manager over the phone to notify them of the death and discuss next steps.


Each investment account company might have a slightly different process. Contact them to confirm if any special paperwork or information will be required. You can store copies of this information for your Executor.

A new account is typically set up for the estate or for a beneficiary, depending on whether or not the original account owner has included this in any estate planning. Any securities registered in the name of the deceased person will be transferred at that point in time. No account activity can typically be conducted until the Executor or Beneficiary has received legal authority to act. New account applications are often required in order to meet legal and regulatory mandates.

Personal Considerations


Do you have a mortgage?


Create a document with the name and contact number of the mortgage company where the executor of your estate can easily find it.

If you have an online account where you can view the mortgage balance or find important tax documents, make sure this is stored in a password manager.

If there is no estate planning in place for a piece of real estate, such as a transfer on death deed naming your spouse as the person to take it over in the event you pass away, the real estate is wholly owned by you and therefore your estate. It enters that status in probate, during which time it is typically liquidated to cover estate expenses.

If a spouse or other party is also listed on the mortgage, the land deed, or will receive the property through a “transfer on death deed”, they will need to provide proof of this in order to take over the mortgage and/or property ownership.

An executor managing the affairs of a home that will not transfer directly per the deed or a transfer on death deed will need to provide a copy of the death certificate and their own short certificate.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If there are no heirs with rights to that property, estate funds might be required to pay the mortgage while probate is pending, during which time a spouse or other family members may continue to live in the home.


Read on to review other materials you might need to leave behind for your loved ones.


If you have a mortgage:

Create a document with the name and contact number of the mortgage company where the executor of your estate can easily find it.

If you have an online account where you can view the mortgage balance or find important tax documents, make sure this is stored in a password manager.

If there is no estate planning in place for a piece of real estate, such as a transfer on death deed naming your spouse as the person to take it over in the event you pass away, the real estate is wholly owned by you and therefore your estate. It enters that status in probate, during which time it is typically liquidated to cover estate expenses.

If a spouse or other party is also listed on the mortgage, the land deed, or will receive the property through a “transfer on death deed”, they will need to provide proof of this in order to take over the mortgage and/or property ownership.

An executor managing the affairs of a home that will not transfer directly per the deed or a transfer on death deed will need to provide a copy of the death certificate and their own short certificate.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If there are no heirs with rights to that property, estate funds might be required to pay the mortgage while probate is pending, during which time a spouse or other family members may continue to live in the home.

If you do not have a mortgag:

Read on to review other materials you might need to leave behind for your loved ones.


Do you have life insurance?


Make sure you have completed the insurance company’s beneficiary form. This form assigns which percentage of proceeds go to which beneficiaries.

You might also need to name a contingent beneficiary in the event that your primary beneficiary passes away. Store a copy of the life insurance policy where the executor of your estate can find it.

If you have a private life insurance policy and an at-work policy, verify that you have left copies of each.


Consider purchasing a life insurance policy to provide for your loved ones if you pass away.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information on how to do that, review the task “Update named beneficiaries of 'pay on death' accounts".


If you have life insuranc:

Make sure you have completed the insurance company’s beneficiary form. This form assigns which percentage of proceeds go to which beneficiaries.

You might also need to name a contingent beneficiary in the event that your primary beneficiary passes away. Store a copy of the life insurance policy where the executor of your estate can find it.

If you have a private life insurance policy and an at-work policy, verify that you have left copies of each.

If you do not have a life insurance policy:

Consider purchasing a life insurance policy to provide for your loved ones if you pass away.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information on how to do that, review the task “Update named beneficiaries of 'pay on death' accounts".


Do you have financial investment accounts?


Make sure you have stored these in an inventory of all accounts or have provided other access instructions for an Executor.

When creating this inventory:

  • List the bank/institution, account owners, and number
  • List whether any accounts have a “payable on death” provision
  • Identify the cash value of the account
  • For retirement accounts, list the names of beneficiaries on the account

Read on to review other materials you might need to leave behind for your loved ones.


If you have financial or investment account:

Make sure you have stored these in an inventory of all accounts or have provided other access instructions for an Executor.

When creating this inventory:

  • List the bank/institution, account owners, and number
  • List whether any accounts have a “payable on death” provision
  • Identify the cash value of the account
  • For retirement accounts, list the names of beneficiaries on the account
If you do not have financial or investment accounts:

Read on to review other materials you might need to leave behind for your loved ones.


Do you have debts?


Include information about those debts in your estate inventory. This will make it easier for the executor of your estate to identify and pay those creditors. In your inventory, include the following information:

  • The name of the lender
  • When the loan/debt was taken on
  • The kind of debt (credit card, medical bill, personal loan, retirement account or life insurance policy loan, tax payment plans, business loan)
  • The amount owed at the time you created the inventory
  • Whether any automatic repayments apply to these debts

Read on to review other materials you might need to leave behind for your loved ones.


If you have debts:

Include information about those debts in your estate inventory. This will make it easier for the executor of your estate to identify and pay those creditors. In your inventory, include the following information:

  • The name of the lender
  • When the loan/debt was taken on
  • The kind of debt (credit card, medical bill, personal loan, retirement account or life insurance policy loan, tax payment plans, business loan)
  • The amount owed at the time you created the inventory
  • Whether any automatic repayments apply to these debts
If you do not have debts:

Read on to review other materials you might need to leave behind for your loved ones.


Plan for the Future