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The importance of a legacy folder

When I meet with my clients and update their financial plans, part of this review also covers their Wills and their legacy folder, or “in case of death” file. This folder should contain all the essential documents required to wind up their estate.

When we talk about this, I must admit that although I try to ensure that I do it with keen attention to detail, it is an academic discussion. For me, what brought this into extreme clarity was when I was recently diagnosed with Covid. A client of mine had recently died from Covid, and I was helping his family try and make sense of certain basic things, like accessing his cellphone and his bank account. This sent me into a slight panic and led me to wonder whether my family would be able to access my information should my health deteriorate quickly.

I have always been passionate about having an updated legacy folder and update this on an annual basis. However, when I started looking at this file with very clear, focused eyes, I began to see that several small steps were missing. My cellphone works on face recognition, but also has a password, would my family know what the password was? In talking to colleagues in the office, one said that his cellphone works on his thumbprint. How would this work if he was unable to do this?

Questions started going through my mind, like whether I had made clear enough notes about accessing my bank account. Would my family know that if I access this through my laptop, it sends a verification request to my cellphone? My experience with my late client’s family was figuring out what debit orders go through his bank account; if I died, would my family know what amounts went through automatically and what I paid manually? I have a list of these amounts, but I doubt they will find them on my computer.

Thank goodness I came through Covid virtually unscathed, but I think the learnings have been valuable. Can I suggest that you discuss this with somebody you trust? Ask your RetiremeantTM Specialist for guidance as to what documents should be kept in your legacy folder. It is not only formal documents, but detailed notes as well. Notes regarding other things that maybe somebody else trying to pick up the pieces may not be aware of, such as:

  • Do you have a safety deposit box? If so, where, and where is the key?
  • If you have crypto assets, what would somebody else need to know to access them?
  • Are there any special documents that somebody may be holding for you? For instance, your original Will, which may be in Chartered Legacy & Trust’s safe.
  • Do you have a Living Will? People may need to access this if you are on life support.
  • Are you, by any chance, holding certain assets for another person? Assets such as a painting, furniture, valuables?
  • What you are paying your domestic staff every month. What have you promised them in retirement?
  • A list of your various access codes and passwords to different electronic platforms or apps that you may have on your phone.
  • If you do your own tax return, your access code and password so that somebody can see when your last tax return was submitted.
  • Base costs of your home, and details of any alterations you may have done over the years.
  • Where can one find the title deed of your home or other properties you may have?
  • Base costs of other assets that you may own.
  • If you are still employed, check your beneficiary nomination form on your retirement fund.
  • Do you have any special arrangements with your employer that possibly other people may not be aware of?

Taking the time to ensure that somebody else will be able to pick up your affairs without too much effort is a gift that you leave your loved ones. They will be going through enough emotional turmoil, and you would have helped relieve a small part of this. If you need help compiling your legacy folder, please chat with your RetiremeantTM Specialist, who can guide you through this process.