Useful guide by Saabira Chaudhuri in the Wall Street Journal. The article covers areas such as wills, proof of ownership, bank accounts, health-care, life insurance, retirement, marriage documents and why you should prepare a “Death Dossier”:
It isn’t enough simply to sign a bunch of papers establishing an estate plan and other end-of-life instructions. You also have to make your heirs aware of them and leave the documents where they can find them.
[..] The financial consequences of failing to keep your documents in order can be significant. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, state treasurers currently hold US$32.9 billion in unclaimed bank accounts and other assets.
Most experts recommend creating a comprehensive folder of documents that family members can access in case of an emergency, so they aren’t left scrambling to find and organize a hodgepodge of disparate bank accounts, insurance policies and brokerage accounts.
- Update: There’s a followup article, “Read This Before You Die“