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A Personal Financial Checklist

Financial planning, like gardening, requires constant vigilance. Just as plants, shrubs, and landscaping need constant care to keep them healthy and growing, your overall financial plan needs to be periodically re-examined, redone and, when necessary, turned over to an expert. Here are some general guidelines for taking good care of your financial health.

Make Sure You Know Where These Important Personal Documents Are

Here is a list of personal papers you should be able to locate. The items listed here that relate to assets can serve as the starting point for any financial plan. Further, in the event of a family emergency, having these items available will help you to deal with matters that need to be taken care of.

  • Birth Certificate (both spouses).
  • Social Security number (both spouses).
  • Marriage license, prenuptial agreement, and/or divorce decree or death certificate for previous marriage, if applicable.
  • Title to all realty owned, and records showing original cost, cost of all improvements and (for business or rental property) depreciation taken.
  • Tax return for past six years; all prior gift tax returns.
  • Title to cemetery plot.
  • All insurance policies, including group life, health, casualty, auto, etc., and identity of insurance agents.
  • A list of the approximate amount of pension, military, or other benefits you will be entitled to on retirement, or if your spouse dies.
  • A list of all assets.....e.g., realty, stocks, etc.....that you own separately or jointly with a spouse or other person, together with approximate value. In addition to cash, investments, and realty, here is a partial list of items that should be included in this inventory: IRAs and retirement plan benefits; life insurance policies that you own; interests in partnerships or other business entities; jewelry and luxury items; automobiles and boats; antiques, collectibles, and art; and debts owed to you by others. The inventory of your property should be updated periodically.
  • A list of your liabilities, which should be kept current.
  • Location of safe deposit boxes, keys, and passwords.
  • A statement for each bank account, IRA, broker, or other account, and the main banker, broker, or other contact person related to each account.
  • The whereabouts of your will, and the name and address of the attorney who prepared it.
  • The name and addresses of your CPA and attorney.
  • The names and addresses of family members, close relatives, and any persons mentioned in a will.