Thinking about the future of your finances may not be an appealing use of your time. But chances are it won't take long to update your personal financial statement and make a list of important documents, and by doing so, save yourself trouble in the long run. Think of this inventory as a snapshot of your financial situation. It can make tasks like tax return preparation, estate planning, calculating your net worth and applying for a loan much easier. The exact items on your list depend on your personal situation but here are some recommendations of what to include:Assets
- Investments including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, futures contracts, warrants and options. What is the current market value for such securities? List your purchase price, number of units held, and factors such as dividends and maturity dates.
- Real estate: What is the current value and where are the deeds and policies of title insurance for your principal residence and other investment property?
- Life insurance policies, annuities, IRAs, pensions and profit sharing plans.
- Long-term royalties due to you.
- Partnerships and trusts.
- Interests in closely held businesses.
- Bank accounts, certificates of deposit, U.S. Savings Bonds, Treasury securities. List the bank, the account number, balance and any yield or maturity dates.
- Automobiles, boats, recreational vehicles and motorcycles.
- Other personal property, such as valuable jewelry, art and collectibles.
- Short-term liabilities, such as the amount owed on credit cards and installment loans. List the accounts, numbers and balances.
- Long-term liabilities, including the amount owed on mortgages and loans for college, cars, home improvement and other purposes.
- Unpaid taxes.
- Safe deposit box. What is the bank and the box number? Where is the key?
- Military service documents, which enable the collection of veterans' benefits. Where are they located?
- Estate planning essentials: Where is the original will and any trust documents located and who has copies? Who are the executors? Do you own any burial plots?
- Advisors: List the names and phone numbers of your accountant, attorney, securities broker and insurance agent.
- Insurance policies for home, automobiles and other property. Where are the titles and registration papers for these assets?
- Tax Returns: Where are copies of past tax returns located?
So that you remember...
Once the list is complete, store it safely. Update it when necessary. And make sure your loved ones know where to find it. You might also want to give a copy to your tax adviser to seek advice about saving on income taxes and minimizing estate tax.