Documents You Need Before You Die: Retirement Planning & Insurance

March 2015

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In our 4th installment of Essential Documents You Need Before You Die, we focus on the retirement planning and insurance documents you need to compile.

To view an infographic summary of all the 30 Documents You Need Before You Die, click here.

At different stages of your life, you’ll have different contents in your life documents, but if you have control over any types of accounts or property—tangible, fiscal or digital—you already have at least some of these documents which represent who you are, the life you’ve lived, and the assets and liabilities that you own.

We encourage you, whether you need to pull together just a few documents, or a long lifetime of documents, that you compile, track, and take thorough notes. The process is simplified if you track as you go rather than doing a large amount at one time.  Once you’ve compiled these necessary documents, try to maintain your hard work.

It can be helpful for many to discuss these items with whomever would be responsible for administering your estate in depth so that they know what you have, where it’s kept and what your wishes are.[i]

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As a first step, we highly recommend printing out your own copy of the Peace of Mind Checklist we’ve provided and filling it out thoroughly. This tool is for you to use to simplify the process for all of these very important life documents.

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Retirement Planning & Insurance

Life Insurance Policies
It is important to note the carrier, policy number and the agent associated with any Life Insurance policy so that your family can access it easily. Don’t forget any policies that you may have from multiple employers. These can often get overlooked.

Individual Retirement Accounts
Not claiming your IRAs can cause them to become dormant and inaccessible. These accounts are often overlooked when there are major life events that can affect your beneficiaries, such as a new marriage. Having a personal relationship with a qualified financial professional that keeps in contact with you can help you update beneficiary status on accounts when you have a job change, or a major life event.

401(k) Accounts
It is easy to accumulate multiple 401(k) accounts over your lifetime. A thorough way to document your IRA history is to list former places of employment, and list account and contact information if you have an active 401(k) account associated with any position. As you begin to consolidate those accounts into an IRA, you can easily notate on that document any necessary notes.

Pension Documents
If you are receiving an activated pension, it’s important to list how you have designated any types of benefits, such as spousal or dependent benefits.

Annuity Contracts
Notes that you have for your annuity contracts should include the type of tax qualification of each annuity, and also your beneficiary designations. Remember to keep your beneficiary information updated on your notes when you update your beneficiaries on your actual contract in order to reduce confusion.

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Documents You Need Before You Die:

The Basics

Assets & Ownership

Banking & Investments

Health Records

Stay tuned for our final installment:

Relationships

If you’d like to view the full list of  30 documents you need before you die, click here to view our infographic.

This series is based off “The 25 Documents You Need Before You Die,” by the Wall Street Journal, originally published July 2, 2011.

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