The “Open in Case of Death” Binder: End of Life Planning Beyond a Life Insurance Policy

Kevin Orsinger |

The “open in case of death” binder might sound like it would hold something cryptic—a secret message or hidden funds; however, the “open in case of death” binder is much more practical. It is a tool to help you organize the files and documents your loved ones might need after your passing and make the process just the slightest bit easier.

This binder, or whatever other organizational system you choose, should be housed in a fireproof safe or other secure storage system, and of course you want to make sure that your loved ones who will handle your affairs in the event of your passing know where it’s located and how to access it. We like a binder because you can place everything in individual plastic sleeves and use a file tabs for a solid organizational system.

Once you’ve selected your system and determined where to keep it safe, you want to fill it. These documents might include a will, living trust, power of attorney, birth, death, and/or marriage certificates, bank and credit card information, log in information and passwords for all accounts (from utility to social—anything you’d want your loved ones to be able to access on your passing), loan documents, titles, deeds, copies of keys, passwords to log into your devices, and so on. You might also choose to write notes to your partner, children, or other loved ones to include in the envelope to be read upon your passing.

Finally, you will want to review the binder every so often—perhaps once a year—to make any necessary updates. You might also consider making a copy, as it can never hurt to have two copies of something like this. We like to have one physical and one digital copy for added safety, but make sure your file is secure if housed digitally. It can also be helpful to give a copy of the binder to your financial planner or lawyer.

Ultimately, this is one step that everyone can take to make their passing easier for their loved ones. Though it may seem grim, having copies for every member of the household can make the process easier for everyone, and set your family up for less work in the future. The sooner you build (and maintain) your system, the easier it can be. If you’d like to discuss your system, call us at (724) 588-9067!