A death file is a central place to keep “how, what and where” documents that ensure your wishes are honored at the end of your life and your loved ones have access to all the documents, passwords and information they need to take care of your affairs when you die.
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Creating your Death File
Creating your Death File gives you the opportunity to communicate your wants and needs to your loved ones who will be taking care of the arrangements in the event of your death. It will also help everyone to handle your affairs in the way that you would like things to be done.
It is highly recommended to split your Death File into two parts; one for nonsensitive and general information that needs to be readily available and shared with loved ones long before the time comes; and one for highly confidential information that needs to be kept secure and only made available after your death.
The first part of your Death File will contain details on the whereabouts of crucial documents, important information, contact details, as well as your preferences and wishes, which need to be readily available to be acted on immediately when the time comes. This part of your Death File should be shared with your partner, children, close family members or trusted friends while you are alive, preferably as soon as possible. It will serve no purpose hidden in a safe, where it is usually only found after the funeral, when it is too late to act upon.
Highly confidential information
The second part of your Death File will contain sensitive information, such as financial details, passwords and access codes that should be kept extremely safe and should only be shared with your most trusted relatives/friends, with instructions for them to keep it in a safe place where no-one else will find it.
If you find the information too sensitive, and do not wish to give this document to anyone while you are alive, then keep it secure by hiding it or locking it up in a safe (if a physical copy), or protecting it with a password or in a digital vault (if an electronic copy). Details on how to find or access this document can then be shared with someone you trust and should only be made available to the executors of your estate after your death.
Updating your Death File
When you decide to share physical copies of your Death File, keep in mind that it might have to be updated a few times and therefor will have to be retracted from family and friends to make sure older versions are not in circulation. So, choose not only who you share with, but also the amount of people you share with very carefully.
Your Death File should be updated each time you experience a major life event such as a new child, getting married, getting divorced or in case of changes in your health and wealth. It’s a good rule of thumb to review your Death File at least every three years, even if you don’t think anything is different.
A Death File is not part of your Last Will and Testament but rather a document or file containing all the necessary and helpful information that usually is not included in a Will. Any information in a Death File that contradict any information in your Will, will be disregarded, as the information in your Will take precedence.
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Death File Template
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, all come from earth, and to earth all return.
Ashes to ashes,
dust to dust,
all come from earth,
and to earth all return.