Rob recently wrote about the money binder he uses to compile all of his personal financial information. It’s meant for the convenience of his wife and children when he is no longer able to manage the family finances and investments.
While Rob uses a physical money binder, you can create one online. Here are five high-tech options to organize your own money binder and leave meaningful instructions for your family.
Table of Contents:
Google Docs Money Binder Template
In podcast DR 207, Rob Berger discussed the money binder he constructed and briefly introduced the different purposes of each section. As a reminder, the money binder is more than a list of assets. It is a road map through your philosophy of investing and a way to navigate through your financial assets in the event of your passing.
With Rob’s help, I’ve put together a template of his Money Binder.
To use this template, please make a copy of this document to save it in your own Google account. This is a template and should be edited any way you see fit to reflect your personal financial situation. The goal is to communicate to your loved ones the financial information they need in the event of your passing.
Contact Sharing Apps
The key contacts section in your money binder should list the individuals/companies that should be contacted to handle various aspects of your estate. But you could already have these contacts shared with your spouse or loved ones beforehand using your iPhone or Gmail Contact list. Here’s how to do it:
From your iPhone or iPad:
From your Gmail Account:
- Enter your Key Contacts’ information into Gmail > Contacts
- Assign each contact to a new group called “Key Contacts”
- After you have entered all your key contacts, you can click on More and Export
- Select the group Key Contacts, and export it into your desired format.
- You can now share and import this file or keep it on a thumb drive or CD.
Net Worth Statement Section
In podcast DR114: 3 Tools to Track Your Net Worth, Rob discusses using Personal Capital, YNAB, or a simple spreadsheet to track your net worth. When you use Personal Capital or YNAB, your net worth is easily accessible from your dashboard. Since your net worth perpetually changes, you should get into the habit of printing or taking a screenshot of these dashboards for your money binder every quarter.
Sometimes, these dashboards do not print as seen on your screen. So you may need to take a screenshot of your dashboard and copy and paste it into your Money Binder file. Here’s how to do it for MAC or for PC.
Remember, your net worth is only as accurate as the accounts and assets you have linked to it. The whole point of the money binder is to map out the big picture of your finances. If a piece of that picture is missing, such as an unsupported bank, mortgage, or other major asset, then your financial tools dashboard may not be the right solution for your money binder, and it may be more effective to use a spreadsheet.
Can’t find a tech solution that works for your net worth calculation? You can use a simple Microsoft Excel Template here to create your own net worth spreadsheet, instead.
Online Security Note
If you’re going to keep your Money Binder on a cloud solution like Google Drive or Office 365, I would suggest keeping the information on your Money Binder file very general and refrain from listing user names, passwords, and account numbers. As Rob mentioned in his podcast, a death certificate and key contacts information will probably be all your loved ones will need when handling your estate.
Another reason you should not keep such information on the cloud is because, according to Theodoric Meyer of Propublica.org, authorities only need a subpoena or court order for any cloud file or email more than 180 days old. With such easy accessibility, always keep that in mind for any document you store online.
Rob mentions the use of the password management tool LastPass in his Money Binder podcast. LastPass is a powerful tool that allows you to securely store all your passwords for all your email, shopping, and financial online accounts.
One of the biggest benefits of using this free tool is for the Emergency Access feature. It will allow you to grant access to any other LastPass user only after a pre-designated waiting time has lapsed. This is perfect for your money binder because your estate can effectively put in the request for emergency access and have easy access to all of your accounts in the event of your passing.
Creating Your Money Binder
With these five solutions, you can easily create your own money binder and make the financial transition for your loved ones as smooth as possible.