This is the first Money in the Media Monday I’ve done in a while. So, let’s get back into it with a media platform that’s a little bit different than the normal article review. This past week, Dead to Me Season 2 came out on Netflix. First, it is a fantastic show that you should absolutely watch. Second, I do my best to not bring in any spoilers, however, I reference my first point.. watch the show. Third, over the course of the season the theme of “what will happen if the kids lose both of their parents?,” came up repeatedly. Towards the end of the season, this culminated in the main character’s use of a tool I personally use, recommend to my clients and have generally found to be extremely important:

The What

The Smart Money Mamas ICE Binder is THE tool that can make all the difference in the world if your family needs it. It’s one of those things that we all hope will never be needed but, if the worse happens, you will be glad that it is there. Think of it like a seat belt or safety net for your family. This binder contains all of the information that your family would need to take care of your personal affairs and deal with their lives without you in it. It covers the essential information for your life like:

  • Emergency Contact information- Doctors, Dentists, Extended family members
  • Gathering together your personal documents- Birth and Marriage Certificates, SS card, Passport, etc.
  • Medical information about you and your loved ones should any caregivers need to know it.
  • Suggesting basic forms (or seeking more complex) estate documents- POA, Living Wills, etc.
  • Insurance information- Medical, Life, Disability, etc.
  • Bills- What they are and how they are paid
  • Information on banking and investment accounts

Having lived through what not having all of this information from a parent who becomes disabled looks like, this will save YEARS of head and heartaches. On top of this essential information, this binder also includes the more human side of losing someone, specifically for your children and pets:

  • What activities your child(ren) participate in and when those activities take place
  • What your child(ren)’s favorite foods, stuffed animals, books and bedtime songs are
  • Who your child(ren)’s best friends are that they will need to count on during this tough time
  • Are your pets up to date with their vaccinations and who is their vet?
  • What brand of food do they like, how much of it do they get and how often?
  • Who is the preferred pet sitter?
  • Are they taking any medications (your child’s medications are covered in the medical section)?
  • And more…

I know that this may seem like a lot of information but, that’s exactly the purpose of this binder. It is meant to be a data dump for you to put everything you know about your life in one place. This will help someone be able to pick it up if they ever needed to do so. Like Jen, in Dead to Me, thought she would need Judy to do for her.

The How

You can find this ICE Binder at the Smart Money Mamas site along with a LOT of other great content from Chelsea. The documents for this binder are downloaded to your computer as fill-able PDFs that you can the print out and store. I also recommend keeping copies saved to your personal computer and an external source that can be accessed when needed. If you have to make an update, you can just change the soft copy and only print out the pages that have changed. It is both much easier and better for the environment.

Also keep in mind that since this has your most sensitive information, it will need to be treated as such. So, keep it in a secure location (both the hard and soft copies) where only those who have the need-to-know are even aware that it exists, as well as, where to access it.

The Why

Thinking about your demise (or any other circumstance where you could not be with your loved ones) is traumatic and just plain old not a good time. However, wouldn’t you sleep better knowing that if something did happen to you that you have done everything you can to keep your family going?

I struggled with anger towards my dad for a long time because he made no efforts to give us any information that could help us pick up the pieces that his Alzheimer’s left behind. It took years for my mom to be able to sort everything out on her own. He was never able to see past (or accept) what was happening to him. I see that now but, as a teenager, I did not and that feeling helped to ruin whatever precious few years we had left where we would have been able to do things like have real conversations.

That is not the path I want for any of you. So thinking about (and documenting) all of this information now, will make things easier on everyone. The truth is that we never know when tragedy may strike. If you can give your family the tools to help them weather the storm though, wouldn’t you?

Please let me know if you have used this binder or something similar on your own. Or do you know of a loved one who has? Let me know in the comments below!