If an unexpected event were to happen, would you, or others, be able to find important documents to handle your finances?
A financial inventory is a list of all of your financial documents and other important financial information. While we often suggest this be created as part of an estate plan, there may be other situations in which having this inventory can be invaluable — in the event of damage to your home, such as a fire, flood or natural disaster, divorce or separation, incapacity or illness of you or your spouse/partner or theft.
The Benefits: A Big Picture View...and No Lost Funds!
A financial inventory is not only important to ensure continuity in managing your finances in the event of unforeseen circumstances, but it can also provide a big picture view of your financial accounts and your overall financial situation. It should be reviewed periodically and updated to account for changes, including major life events.
Another reason why this can be important? By keeping track of your financial documents, there is a better chance that your assets will not be lost or forgotten. The latest reports suggest that there are $888 million in unclaimed balances held by the Bank of Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency has around 7.6 million uncashed cheques with a total value of around $1 billion.
Creating Your Financial Inventory
Putting together the initial inventory can be time consuming, but once it is created it can more easily be maintained. You will need to gather information and documentation about all of your finances. In the process, you may also determine that there are areas that can be streamlined to simplify your finances, such as consolidating or eliminating accounts.
The financial inventory should include all assets and debts. Assets include savings, chequing, brokerage and investment accounts, retirement and education savings accounts, real estate holdings and insurance policies (health, home, life, car, disability and long-term care). Debts may include credit card accounts, mortgage accounts and other personal loans. The inventory should also include legal documents such as a will, trusts and power of attorney documents, as well as titles, deeds and business documents. Any valuable property, such as artwork or jewelry, should be documented. Finally, the list should include the contact details of professionals involved in your finances, such as accountants, investment advisors and lawyers.
A detailed inventory should include contact information, account numbers, user name/password information and other account access details. Other information may be considered, such as social insurance numbers, automobile VIN/licensing details, cell phone providers and loyalty rewards programs. Given the abundance of sensitive information, you will need to ensure that this document is kept in a safe place, yet one that can be accessed by others if needed. It may also be beneficial to keep account number/password information in a separate location for greater security.
If you have yet to create an inventory and are in need of worksheets or tools to assist with this exercise, please call the office.