It's the most wonderful time of the year...to get all your stuff together. Follow our glorious advent calendar below, do one thing per day, and you'll have a sturdy plan in place by New Year's Eve.
Tip: Rather than write all this stuff on a piece paper that will undoubtedly get lost or eaten by a racoon, you should create an Everplan where you can easily update and share it with people who will need it. (Oh, and if you click any of the “Get It Done” links below you’ll need to log into your account to gain direct access to that section.)
What do you drive, ride, row, or sail? Gather up the following info on your rides/bikes/boats or other modes of transport:
Make Model | Ownership Papers/Lease Info | License Plate | Insurance | Vendors & Services | Security & Care
It’s All About You
List out where you keep the following important forms of ID and offer some extra details about the other things we mention here (examples: college major, first job):
Driver’s License | Passport | Social Security Card (or number) | Religious or Spiritual Affiliations | Clubs & Affiliations | Degrees & Certifications | Military Service Record
Who doesn’t like talking about their family? Whether it’s details about your spouse or partner, info about your kids (schools attended, health and medical specifics, dietary restrictions), as well as other family member (history about your parents, siblings, that one cool aunt…), you probably have info about your family that no one else knows. Why keep it to yourself?
- Get It Done: Everplans “My Family” Section
Home Sweet Home
Stop for a second and think about all that goes into running a household. From the mortgage, to the maintenance, to the bills. It’s a lot, right? Now imagine your family trying to piece all of that together without you around to help. To prevent this sad fate, gather up the following for every piece of property you own or rent:
Ownership details (mortgage or rent details, where’s the deed or lease?) | Insurance info | Utilities (yes, all of them) | Vendors & Services | Security (example: how can someone you trust gain entry if they needed to?)
If you use any professionals to manage your money and investments it’s a crucial for your family to know who they are. How else will they they be able to locate and translate the scope of your finances if something unexpected happens. Share the contact info for the following pros:
Accountant | Financial Planner | Insurance Agent | Investment Manager | Tax Preparer
- Dig Deeper: Does Your Family Know Who Handles Your Finances?
- Get It Done: Everplans “Financial Advisors” section
The Password Is…
Where do you store all your passwords? You don’t have to tell us (in fact, don’t tell us), but you need to tell someone in case they need to access your accounts for whatever reason. If you use a password manager (Lastpass, Dashlane, OnePassword, etc…), what’s the master password? If you don’t use one, how do you keep track of them all? Digital document? Notebook? Carrier pigeon?
Get Your Health Decisions On Paper
An Advance Directive is a legally-binding document for how you want to be treated in a medical emergency or at the end of your life. It sounds complicated but it’s not. In fact, you can get it done right now. For free!
- Find your state’s form here
- Download it
- Print it out
- Fill it out
Most importantly: Make sure you keep this in a place where people can find it if they need it.
- Dig Deeper: All You Need To Know About Advance Directives
- Get It Done: Everplans “Advance Directive” section
If you’re involved in any charity or nonprofit work, or if there are any causes that you strongly support, you can request people make donations in your name after you’re gone. You can also make arrangements to set aside money or assets from your estate. If you want to make it legally binding you should have it written into your Will; if you’d like it to be a more informal suggestion, tell your heirs the following:
Name of Charity | Website or Phone Number | Notes & Instructions (example: in lieu of flowers…)
- Dig Deeper: How To Give To Charity After You’re Gone
- Get It Done: Everplans “Favorite Charities” section
Work Work Work Work Work
How you spent your career often says a lot about how you spent your life. Whether you worked for companies, ran your own place, or freelanced, it’s a big part of who you are so keep track of the following:
Name of Company/Job | Job Duties | Duration | Current/Former Co-workers that made a positive impact | Additional Details like achievements, promotions, or awards.
- Dig Deeper: Organize Your Employment Information And Work History
- Get It Done: Everplans “Employment” section
Ever drive around and think: “Wow, there seems to be a ton of storage facilities everywhere now.” That’s because there are. If you have one you need to let someone know how to access it. It’s also a good time to figure out if you even need it. Why pay rent for stuff that does nothing but sit in a locker all day?
- Dig Deeper: What Happens To A Self Storage Unit When Someone Dies?
- Get It Done: Everplans “Storage Facilities” Section (3rd field down the page)
What’s Up, Doc?
Who are the doctors, specialists, care providers, pharmacists, and other medical professionals that keep you feeling good and fit? Make sure your family knows who to contact in case they have any questions or concerns about your level of care.
- Dig Deeper: Keep Track Of All Your Doctors And Medical Professionals
- Get It Done: Everplans “Doctors” section
- Get It Done: Everplans “Care Providers” section
Fancy Futuristic Devices
You might be reading this very thing on a mobile phone. How crazy is that? What’s even crazier is if no one else in your life has access to that phone. The same goes for computers, tablets, or any other technological wonder that requires a password or unlock code to gain entry. If you’re worried about privacy, that’s cool. Just make sure you write it down and put it somewhere safe since once your family is locked out of a device it’s very, very difficult to get back in.
- Dig Deeper: Canceling A Cell Phone Contract After Someone Dies
- Get It Done: Everplans “Devices” section
Your Cash Stash
Do you know where all your money is? There could be an old checking account you never closed, some stocks you forgot about, or benefits you’ve yet to collect. For various financial accounts, holdings, investments, loans, and other arrangements, you'll need to gather different types of information including account details and important contacts. Here’s how to identify and break it down so your family can make sense of it all:
Financial Accounts (checking, savings, investments, valuable assets) | Credit Cards | Loans | Trusts | Safe Deposit Box
- Dig Deeper: Keep All Your Financial Accounts & Assets Neatly Organized
- Get It Done: Everplans “Financial Accounts & Assets” section
To Health...And Being Able To Afford It
Health insurance can get very complicated very quickly, especially when you or a dependent have a medical emergency. Keep it simple by listing out the following:
Type (private or public) | Carrier Name | Related ID Numbers | Dependents | Benefits Contact (if applicable) | Online Portal Login Details.
- Dig Deeper: Organize Important Health Insurance Information
- Get It Done: Everplans “Health Insurance” section
Email, Social, Shopping, And More Digital Delights
You probably have at least 20 digital accounts that you use regularly (email, social media, banking/payment, shopping, benefits, entertainment, online storage) and bunch more that you use every once in awhile. Think Gmail, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and all the others that are now part of your daily routine. Get them sorted once and for all so you or your family will never get locked out.
- Dig Deeper: Overview Of All Your Digital Property And Digital Assets
- Get It Done: Everplans “Digital World” section
To Life, To Life...Insurance
For those with an active Life Insurance policy, either Term or Whole Life, you need to share those details with the beneficiaries. First and foremost: Make sure you let your family know what policies you have and which companies you got them through. To make things even easier, share the details like policy number, expiration date, and contact info for your insurance agent. If you have coverage through your job, be sure and share those details. If don’t have any Life Insurance and you have a family, definitely look into getting some before it’s too late.
- Dig Deeper: All You Need To Know About Life Insurance
- Get It Done: Everplans “Life Insurance” section
Furry (And Non-Furry) Friends
Most pets are part of the family and should never be forgotten if something happens to you. Here are the details you need to document and share:
Pet Type | Age (ideally, the birthday if you know it and it’s that type of pet) | Veterinarian | Guardian | Health & Diet Needs | Likes & Dislikes
To Staying Healthy
Your medical history can help determine what you’ve been through or what you’re going through. This includes documents (x-rays or MRI results), a list of medication you take (name, dosage, how do you obtain it), allergies you manage, chronics injuries or illnesses, and any medical equipment currently around (or in) you. List it out in one place so you or your loved ones don’t have to explain the same things over and over again to doctors, insurance companies, or anyone else who may need it.
- Dig Deeper: Organize The Most Important Aspects Of Your Medical History
- Get It Done: Everplans “Health & Medical” section
Possessions, Keepsakes, And Cherished Family Memories
Share the thoughts and stories behind special things you own or that have been passed down to you from previous generations. It’ll help you take stock of your family history and allows you to better explain the decisions you made in your Will (example: the reason you left your granddaughter your favorite watch) and get specific about things that aren’t in your Will -- like who’s in old family photos.
The two most important cornerstones of a solid plan is having a Last Will & Testament and Power Of Attorney:
- A POA is someone you trust to take care of your finances when you’re still alive but can’t do it yourself
- A Will specifies who or what gets your property after you die
If you already completed these documents, great! Just make sure they’re easily accessible to the people who will need them one day. If you don’t have either of these things completed, fear not. You can go the quick route and get a simple Will and POA in place through using one of the sites in our Online Legal Service Guide. For more complex estates, you should see an Estate Attorney.
The Most Delicious Planning Of All
Make sure future generations can enjoy your best recipes for years to come. Whether it’s something passed down from your grandparents, or something you created yourself, don’t deprive others of its delectableness. Here’s the info you should include:
Name of Recipe | List of Ingredients | Cooking Instructions | Additional Instructions & Tips.
- Dig Deeper: The Best Ways To Save Family Recipes
- Get It Done: Everplans “Cherished Family Memories” section
Golden Year Prep
When it comes to planning for those later years in life, it’s all about letting your family know what you want. From there, how do you make those wishes a reality? The four pillars that should guide your choices:
Health: Will you need constant and immediate access to doctors and nurses?
Finances: Long term care can be very expensive so how will you pay for it?
Location Of Family: Do you want to be near family or is that not an option?
Independence: Do you need to do everything on your own or are you ok with others pitching in to help?
- Dig Deeper: All You Need To Know About Eldercare Arrangements
- Get It Done: Everplans “Eldercare Living Preferences” section
Answer this simple question: Do you want to be buried, cremated, or have your body donated to science?
Next up: What type of funeral do you want? By letting your family know what you have in mind, or planning it in advance, you’re relieving a huge burden. Aspects to keep in mind:
Pre-Planning You May Have Done (example: you already own a burial plot) | Type & Location of Service | Related Events (example: Memorial Service, Wake, Shiva) | Officiant | Pallbearers | Eulogies | Readings/Prayers/Music | People You Want To Attend (this can be general or include a specific guest list)
- Get It Done: Everplans “What I Want Done With My Body” section
- Get It Done: “Funeral or Memorial Preferences” section
Reap The Benefits
Never leave are benefits you earned throughout your life -- often through your job or service in the military -- on the table. Share the relevant info with your family or else the things you worked so hard for could disappear into a bureaucratic void. Here are the types of benefits to organize and share:
Pensions | Social Security | Military | Disability | Other Annuities or Benefits (example: Child or Spousal Support, Longevity Insurance, Lottery or Prize, Reverse Mortgage, Legal Settlement)
- Dig Deeper: Organize All Your Benefits And Pensions Information
- Get It Done: Everplans “Financial” section
The Greatest Gift Of All
An “Ethical Will” sounds so serious and official, but it’s really all soft and mushy. (In a good way.) It allows you to communicate your personal stories, memories, values, preferences, accomplishments, and beliefs to your family. You should also write individual letters to the people you care about most so they know how much you loved them. Check out our Ethical Will Worksheet for inspiration and you’ll soon realize this is probably the most fun (and addictive) aspect of planning.
- Get It Done: Everplans “About My Life (Ethical Will)” section