Stop for a second and think about all that goes into running a household. From the mortgage or rent, to the routine maintenance, to the utility bills you pay on a monthly and yearly basis. It’s a lot, right? By our estimation, a typical household has more than 15 utilities such as electricity, gas, water, and so much more.
Now imagine your family trying to piece all of this together without you around to help. Do they even know where you keep the deed? Do the utilities in your name need to be canceled or transferred to someone else?
No need to worry. We’ve identified all this stuff and grouped it into five sections which will help keep your home in order.
Basic home info
After you’ve identified a property (or properties) you need to get organized (example: primary residence; summer home), use the following outline to gather the necessary info:
- Phone number.
- Ownership status: Owned (paid for) | Owned (financed) | Rent | Other.
- Location of original deed or lease.
- Property tax info (example: name of county or township).
- Mortgage company name.
- Account number (if applicable).
- Mortgage agent contact info.
- Location of mortgage paperwork.
- Landlord or management company contact info.
- Monthly rent.
- Security deposit (if applicable).
- Lease end date.
- Location of lease.
- Super or handyman contact info.
- Name of insurance company.
- Type of home insurance: Homeowners | Renters | Liability/Umbrella | Mortgage | Flood | Earthquake | Tornado | Other.
- Insurance agent contact info.
- Insurance account or policy number.
- Location of original policy documents.
Include the name of the company providing the utility, account number, and payment info (example: monthly auto-payment via checking account). It’s also a good idea to keep at least one physical statement or the login info handy (if you access this account digitally).
- Internet | Cable | Home phone (Landline) [NOTE: Don't forget to share the home Wifi network and password as well!]
- Heating oil/propane.
Vendors and services
Include the name and contact info of the company or person providing the service, account number (if applicable), and payment info. How much does the service generally cost? Do you only pay cash for some services? You may also want to indicate where you keep receipts or warranties.
- Pool care.
Security and home automation
What if someone had to get in your house for whatever reason − like a babysitter or repair guy? Here’s the info they would need so they aren't picked up by local authorities:
- Name of home security company.
- Contact info.
- Account number.
- Master password.
- Phone safe word.
- Instructions for entering house.
- Extra key location.
Smart homes have added a new level of convenience for all ... and extra complications for those who might not be technically inclined. Here's some info you should share so others in your household can adjust the thermostat or turn on the porch lights without having a mental breakdown.
- Smart home device name.
- Username/password to access software and settings.
- Instructions for use (settings, preferences, tips, tricks).
- Other related devices (example: universal remote control, voice activated speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Home).
Tip: Include helpful information for each utility, vendor, and service:
- Recent copies of bills/statements.
- Credit cards or bank accounts used to pay bills.
- Login and password information for online account management.
Other real estate
The same way you should name all your residences, don't forget to identify any other real estate holdings you own or rent, which might include rental properties, businesses, or plots of land.
- Type of property: Rental | Land | Business | Timeshare | Other.
- If rental, is it currently being rented?
- If land, are there any plans for it?
- If business, do you have any partners involved?
- If timeshare, what is the structure, when does it expire?
- Location of paperwork or relevant documents (example: deed or lease).
- Additional details.
How many storage units end up at auctions because family or friends didn’t even know it existed? We’re not sure of the exact numbers, but judging by reality TV, it’s a lot. Don’t let it happen to you.
- Name of storage facility.
- Address/phone number.
- Unit number.
- Key or lock combination.
- Monthly/annual fee.
Why you need to organize and share all this info
One word: Continuity.
You’re probably not the only person who lives in your home. If you’re in charge of all the moving parts, what would everyone else do without you? If someone else is responsible for them, what would you do?
If you split the household duties, you only have half of the picture. If these services will still be in use after you’re gone and you want your family to continue their lives uninterrupted, now’s the time to start planning.
For those who live alone, it’s just as important because you’re the only person with any of this knowledge.
If there’s no longer a need for these services and you want all your money to go to family, friends, or important causes, rather than the cable company, start planning now.
Keep your plan up-to-date
To make sure everything listed above is neatly organized, updated, and shared, you can store it in an Everplan. Not familiar with an Everplan? You can learn more, and sign up here.
Things to Consider
- If you weren’t around for whatever reason, could your household still run smoothly?
- Documenting how the bills get paid can make all the difference to your family in an emergency.
- Start with the most vital aspects of your home to maintain continuity if something happens to you.
This article is provided by Everplans — a life and legacy planning company dedicated to transforming the way people get their families organized. For more information, visit: everplans.com
Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide tax, investment, or legal advice. Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.