If your family loves you unconditionally now—and they probably do—there’s an easy way to keep that love alive after you’re gone. We’re talking about creating a legacy drawer that stores all your official documents. (Not what you were thinking? Keep reading to see how a little organization can turn into a powerful way to care for your family.)
Carrying out your final wishes should be easy for your loved ones when the time comes. And it will be—as long as they can find everything they need in one place! Wouldn’t that be nicer than frantically searching for random scraps of paper?
Don’t be put off if this sounds morbid or like it’s too much trouble. Trust us, it’s not. Creating your legacy drawer is one of the most gracious gestures you’ll ever make for your family. We’ll make it as easy as possible and tell you exactly what to put in it.
Let’s dig in.
What Is a Legacy Drawer?
If you've listened to Dave for any amount of time, you've heard him talk about the legacy drawer. But what is it?
Well, it’s a special place to store the important documents your family will need if something happens to you. While this part of planning for the future isn’t as fun as planning for retirement or that next dream vacation, it’s definitely a task that’s worth its weight in gold.
Having your legacy drawer set up eliminates a whole lot of added stress and confusion at a time when tensions are already running high. And while we’re talking about tension, have you talked with your family about your end-of-life wishes? It’s not easy, but you need to have those difficult conversations sooner rather than later.
How to Set Up Your Legacy Drawer
First things first. We do live in a digital world. So, it’s possible that your legacy drawer won’t be an actual drawer in your home. It could be online, and that would make perfect sense. Whether you go real or digital, what you put in your legacy drawer stays the same.
So, let’s talk about what goes in it. Your legacy drawer should include everything from your financial life, your medical wishes, plans for your funeral, even all those passwords you’ve got memorized but no one else knows.
And while you’re setting up your legacy drawer, go ahead and set up a safe deposit box too for storing original documents. But don’t stress! We’ll break down exactly what documents to include so your loved ones can find what they need quickly.
What to Keep in Your Legacy Drawer
Once you have your legacy drawer set up and ready for documents, grab a cup of coffee and start filling it. Here are the documents we recommend you put in your legacy drawer:
Don’t worry, this isn’t like a cover letter for a job application. And it’s nothing fancy either—just a simple way of stating the purpose and contents of the legacy drawer. We’ve found a cover letter is the best way to let your loved ones know what they can find inside the drawer.
Will and Estate Plans
You’ll definitely want to include any and all information about your will and estate—they’re kinda like the treasure map your family will be looking for. Don’t forget to include the names of the executor, beneficiaries and powers of attorney.
Financial Account Information
This one’s simple: Anything that has money in it and your name on it should be listed in the legacy drawer. That includes account names and numbers and account balances.
All the details surrounding your funeral should be included in your legacy drawer so your loved ones don’t have to guess what you would have chosen. And get specific. Do you want to be buried or cremated? Is there a funeral home you prefer? Do you know what clothes you want to be buried in? What do you want included in your service—specific songs, speakers, etc.? If you’re married, create a letter of instruction for you and another one for your spouse that includes all funeral instructions and add-on instructions (usernames, passwords and PINs)
This one’s a biggie. Think of all your insurance policies as the safety net you’ve worked really hard to create for your family. In the event of your death or an emergency, you want your loved ones to be able to access their safety net quickly so they can avoid being in limbo—financially or emotionally.
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Gather and organize all your insurance information, including health, car, disability, term life and anything else insurance-related into one single document for easy reference. List the type of insurance, who the policy is for, policy numbers and contact information.
Include any legal or other important documents you have. Think deeds, marriage and birth certificates, Social Security cards, and titles.
Your legacy drawer is all about your legacy after all. And sometimes the one thing your family will want is a personal message from you! So, take a little time to leave behind letters for your loved ones. Tell them how much you love them, what they’ve meant to you—anything you want to make sure they know if you’re no longer around to tell them.
Add a copy of your written budget so your family knows how to keep things running in your absence. Make a note of any automated payments and the accounts they’re tied to.
Keeping tax returns in your legacy drawer is like an insurance policy for yourself in case you’re audited from the IRS. (And yes, you can get audited even after death!) Hopefully no one will ever have to access them, but if they do, at least they’ll be prepared.
Write down all passwords, combinations, usernames and PIN numbers. (No judgment, this is also a great opportunity to update all your passwords from your dog’s name or your wedding anniversary to something safer.) This allows your loved ones access to any documents, money or information that’s left when you’re gone. Like we mentioned, a letter of instruction can, and should, include all add-on instructions for anything you mentioned in your will.
Safe Deposit Box Instructions
While you’re building your legacy drawer, you should also set up a safe deposit box. Put all originals of the documents you store in your legacy drawer into your safe deposit box. Then include the location of the safe deposit box and key in your letter(s) of instruction.
Finally, when you finish creating your legacy drawer, don’t forget the most important step. Tell your spouse or another trusted loved one where your legacy drawer is!
This is also a great time to share specifics they might not be aware of or that have changed over the years. Maybe you’ve changed your medical power of attorney or financial power of attorney. Or maybe you’d like to give your grandmother’s ruby ring to someone else. Keep your loved ones in the loop when these types of changes happen.
Make It Easy on Your Loved Ones
Creating your legacy drawer might seem like a lot to do at first, but once you get going you can knock it out in no time. When you finish, set a reminder in your phone or add a note to your calendar to access your legacy drawer every six months. Check to see if any documents need to be added or updated.
Your will is one of the most important documents in your legacy drawer, and if you don’t have one yet, there’s no better time than the present to get started! Check out Mama Bear Legal Forms. Their setup allows you to create your will online in minutes so you can round out your legacy drawer and have a water-tight plan for your loved ones.