Everything I want my family to know about our finances is here

Published: January 15, 2024 at 6:00 am

I maintain a document named “Where is our money?”. This document captures everything I want my family to know about money if I were to be in a position not to tell them—maybe because I am dead or in a coma or prison—or something more pleasant, like being in a Vipassana camp.

About the author and article:  This is written by James Pandu, a member of the Facebook Group Asan Ideas for Wealth. It was originally published as a post there in early Jan 2024. The group owner, Ashal Jauhari, suggested publishing it as an article in freefincal. The post is reproduced below with minor edits with the author’s permission.

Contents of the document

This is a Google document shared with every adult in the family who may need to manage money. The document starts by linking to a Google spreadsheet that lists all our financial accounts.

The ‘bank accounts’ sheet has columns such as account holders, IFSC, account number, nominees, purpose of the bank account, minimum required balance, bank customer ID, etc.

The ‘insurance’ sheet has columns such as insurance type, what/who is insured (life/vehicle/etc.), sum insured, annual premium, premium due date, insurance company name, insurance scheme name, policy number, validity, beneficiary, from which credit card or bank account premium is auto-debited, etc.

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The ‘mutual funds’ sheet has these columns: names of the folio holders, AMC name, folio number, purpose of the folio, default bank account (to which redemptions go), and nominees.

The ‘retirement accounts’ sheet has columns such as what type of account this is (EPF, 401k, etc), account number, employer associated with, etc.

The ‘small savings’ sheet has columns such as account holder name, account type (PPF, SSY, etc), account number, maturity date, bank where the account is held, etc.
The next section is about emergency funds. It introduces what an emergency fund is when to use it, emphasises the need to replenish it, etc. After this, it goes over the bank accounts and mutual fund folios where this money is kept.

Then, the document talks about insurance policies one by one. Describes the policy (such as “health insurance top-up for parents”) and links to the policy documents in Google Drive—a folder for each policy containing policy schedule, insurance cards, etc.
In the same section, I also gave some directions on what to do if there are issues with life insurance claims. “After three years, an insurer cannot deny a claim according to Section 45 of the Insurance Law.” “Reach out to this agent if you need assistance.” Etc.

The next section is for long-term investments. Here, I describe the different platforms where we invest; I link to the investment plan my advisor created, etc.
I save regularly for 15 different short-term needs. I also have a spreadsheet for tracking these (I like to be organised).

The next section is my financial advisor’s contact information. I have written here that my family should contact these people if they need help, emphasising that I have paid the advisor for help. This removes any hesitation about contacting a third party for help.

The last section is called ‘Account credentials’. Here, I have included my phone’s passcode and the master password of my password manager. I have also listed the email addresses to which financial institutions send emails (since this is where OTP codes are sent).

What is not included in the document?

I have not included liabilities (loan EMIs) since I have none. People with active home loans, car loans, education loans, etc., may also want to include those details. You don’t want to miss EMIs because the connected bank account has no money.

Updating the document

Now and then, whenever circumstances change (such as opening a new mutual fund folio, closing a bank account, etc), I try to update the doc and/or the relevant spreadsheet. But once every year, I make it a point to review and update everything. Once the update is done, I download the document as a PDF and send it as an email attachment to all adults in the family who may have to bear financial responsibilities. In the same email, I also link to the Google doc so they can view the most up-to-date content. (The redundancy safeguards against Google freezing my account or something.) May our families never need to use such a document, especially not in unpleasant circumstances!

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About The Author

Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over ten years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter(X), Linkedin, or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
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