Senior Living Q & A: Getting your affairs in order

Q. With the beginning of the new year, I’ve been thinking about getting my affairs in order. What do I need to do?

Here is a list of some of the less obvious topics a personal executor may need to have access to upon a moment’s notice:

Bank accounts and numbers — You may also want to note where hard-copy checks are being stored, if applicable.

Birth certificate — If you can’t find yours, you can order an official copy.

Brokerage account numbers, account websites and passwords, broker contact info — Most brokerage accounts have online account information that can be easily accessed.

Computer/website passwords — These are important for your executor to have in order to close down any open online email services, subscriptions, PayPal accounts, online bank accounts and the like.

Family contacts — Provide the contact information of professionals who have assisted the family and who the executor will likely need to contact.

Health records — Provide your executor with all personal health records. This information will be important to the future generations of your family. If you have children who are minors, take the responsibility now to organize their personal health records.

Home alarm code and location of instructions — It could be pretty embarrassing for your executor to trip off your alarm or not know how it works, should you not be around.

Insurance policies — Make sure life and health insurance policies can be located, along with any agent or company information.

Military discharge papers —These will come into play if military benefits are due to your beneficiaries.

Organ donor — If you are a donor without proper documentation, your wishes will not be observed.

Safe deposit box number and key — Some have one safe deposit box, others have many. Regardless of your situation, make sure you leave clear instructions as to where yours is and how the executor can access it.

Social Security number and card — This is important for identification and benefit claims — not just your Social Security number, but those of your beneficiaries, including minor children.

Trust documents — If you have created a trust, regardless of type, your executor will need to be able to locate and access the governing documents.


NANCY TURNEY received a bachelor's degree in social work and a certificate in gerontology. If you have a specific question you would like answered in this column, email it to or call Turney at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA, (818) 790-0123, ext. 225.

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