Jan 11, 2013

The Household Control Journal - Baby Step #2: Organize the Information

Last spring, I mentioned that I was putting together a Household Control Journal that lists all the things I handle on a day-to-day that my husband would need to know if anything happened to me. The information includes the institutions where we bank or invest and the corresponding account information, insurance policies, important contact information like our doctors, and so on.

I recently added a list of details that my husband might or might not know, but that are frequently used to verify identity - you've probably answered questions like What is the name of the street you grew up on?, What make was your first car?, and so on. I want to make sure my husband can access accounts that have registered my information, even if I'm not around.

It's taken me pretty much a whole year to gather all of the pertinent data, but I think our Control Journal now contains all of the important information my husband would need. The journal will need regular updating, but I am quite happy to have the list done.

So Step #2 is organizing the information in a way that not only makes sense to me, but more importantly, to my husband. I put the information is a simple Word document, and divided it into categories that seemed logical. The nice thing is that the document is searchable, so even if my logic doesn't necessarily make sense to my husband, he should be able to find what he's looking for.

The data is on a flash drive so the information is easily accessible to him at anytime. I'm also going to scan important documents like birth certificates and our marriage certificate, and put those jpgs on the flash drive as well. The flash drive will serve double duty in an emergency, if we ever have to flee our home with minimal belongings. And, I'm considering a hard copy version for just in case. I'm not sure in case of what, but I tend to be overcautious with these types of situations.

The most important thing, of course, is that whoever handles the finances in a family makes the information available to another responsible adult so that if the unthinkable happens, the survivor isn't left trying to dig up account numbers and passwords or worse, unable to access their money, all during an already-traumatic time.

Do you have a Household Control Journal, or something similar? If so, did you include anything else in it?


Theresa said...

I have something similar with regards to financial info, and a hard copy and a disk copy is in our fire-proof safe box. My parents (whom we trust entirely) also have a copy of that stored with our will because I am paranoid that our house in SoCal will be destroyed in an earthquake, along with me and my husband, but not our minor children, who need care, etc.

Chief Family Officer said...

Great idea! Maybe I'll send a copy out of state as well - at the very least, I can put one in our safe deposit box at the bank (although I suppose that's just as likely to get destroyed by an earthquake as our house ...).