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My “In Case I Die” Binder: Important (and Neurotic) Info

I recently wrote a piece about my increased worry since becoming a mother. Along with this generalized worry came the fear of how my family would manage if I died. Somehow, a spreadsheet of our monthly expenses snowballed into an entire binder on how I run the household behind the scenes. 

Because let’s face it, Moms are typically the “default parent” and carry the mental load.

That is, we know:
 
We are low on toothpaste.
 
Picture day is next Tuesday for Kid 1 and in two weeks for Kid 2.
 
Soccer is at 5 on Tuesdays and Thursdays and we have snack duty for the game on the 19th.
 
Your husband will be out of town for two weeks in January, but it is likely to extend to longer.
 
You have a mental list of who you need to buy holiday gifts for, and oh, you need to call a plumber about that leak in the guest bath.
 
The car needs new tires; you should do a search to find a good deal somewhere.
 
Have we all had our flu shots?
 
I think Kid 1 needs new shoes.
 
The laundry needs to be switched over and the dog is due for his annual checkup.
 
What’s for dinner? This is the mental load.
 
These are the things we silently carry, often so that our spouse can work insanely long hours doing (very?) important things to save the world from terrorism and chaos. My husband is typically gone for over 12 hours a day at work, so I don’t really expect that he will come home and fill out the field trip forms.

 

But what if I were gone?

My toxic trait is that I try to make things overly easy for my loved ones, often to a fault. So I compiled a binder of what I think is all of the information my husband would need if I were suddenly gone. It’s a small guide to all the moving parts that make our household what it is. It was suggested that some might appreciate some ideas or guidelines as to what I included, so here it is!
 
my in case I die binderI got the three-ring binder at Target– it measures about 9 x 7 inches. I also got some dividers and a few pockets for business cards and whatnot. I haven’t found a perfect way to utilize the dividers so I won’t include them in my breakdown–you can figure out what works for you.

 

I’ve included a simple template for my binder. It goes as follows:

First Things First – The Important First Calls

Call the owner of the agency I work for.  I’m a therapist and manage my own schedule, so my clients will need to be contacted on my behalf. 
 
Call the holder of my life insurance policy, and remember my file number (listed here). I also made note that we have an additional SGLI policy through the military. Cash in: you are going to need an after school nanny and maybe a cleaning lady.
 
cat taking food - student loan gif via GIPHYCall my student loan servicer, as we always knew death would be my only release from their cruel, ironclad grip.  No sense in you sending them hundreds of dollars a month. Nip that in the bud stat! And yes, this call really is that important to me.
 

Now, down to business…

 
 

A List of Accounts Linked To My Email Address

This is where I get all of the notices, balances, alerts, etc. If my husband doesn’t login to these accounts (see next point) and change them to his email address, he would be out of the loop when the electricity bill is due. This binder is going to save him more than a few times.
 

Spreadsheet Of Monthly Bills With Due Dates

My husband gets paid twice a month, so I have it broken up into 1-15th and 16th-30th. I have the date, the bill, the (general or exact) amount, and any notes, specifically, if it is a manual payment that must be made.  Most are on autopay, but we have a few that are due at inconvenient times of the month, so I make those payments manually. I don’t need multiple hundreds-of-dollars bills coming out on the 30th of the month, and he wouldn’t either.
 

Credit Cards

All cards (not their numbers, but their names) along with the logins and passwords are listed. It may make sense to add the numbers here, but we have few enough that they are easy to tell apart.
I also have logins listed for Credit Karma (so he can ensure accounts are closed) and for the Social Security website. 
 

Student Loans

Why hasn’t he called my loan servicer yet? Get on it!
 
Just in case, I have everything noted again. I handle both of ours, to include managing our Income-Based Repayment plans. We each have different loan servicers, so I listed the names, contact numbers, usernames, and passwords. I listed the Federal Student Aid website usernames and passwords used to verify income when they recertify our plans annually.
 

Insurance/Vehicles

I listed who holds our policies on our vehicles, motorcycle, homeowners, and valuable personal property. (All are USAA except the motorcycle, so that’s easy.) I have the username, password and policy number for the motorcycle policy.
I wrote down the login and password for our EZ Pass, which is a toll-road payment fob.
 

Car Loans/Vehicle Taxes

I listed the companies, websites, usernames, and passwords. Instructions for getting our vehicle taxes released when the bills arrive each year are written down. 
 
paperwork for in case I die binder

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Contact for our CPA

Because I am self-employed, I always let an expert handle our taxes. I also accumulate all of our yearly paperwork needed in a zipped envelope so at the end of the year everything is already gathered in one place. I noted where that folder is.
 

House

I listed our mortgage holder and instructions on how to handle annual property taxes. Pretty important info for the binder.
 

Utilities

Usernames, passwords, and account numbers for electricity, Internet, water/sewer/trash, propane company, DirecTV/AT&T, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and now Disney+ (eek!).
 

Pets

Name, address, and phone number of vet; microchip website and logins (to change address whenever we move;) a note that on the 15th of every month they all get their flea/heartworm meds; a breakdown of where and when I get said medications.  All are on auto-ship from either Amazon or a pet supplies website–name and username/password is listed so it can be managed. I need to add here that dogs get an annual heartworm test, or they can’t get the meds ordered.
 

Taxes

Again, due to being self-employed, I pay my own taxes quarterly. I included the login and password in case it needs to be referenced for some reason. I listed the contact of the agency owner and CPA once again. I also gave directions to find the spreadsheets on my laptop for the current year’s income and expenses to give to the CPA.
 

Amazon Subscribe and Save

Silly, but I wrote out how it works and how to manage it. I also pointed out that it would need to be changed to his email address/account, so that he gets the monthly email to edit/manage that month’s shipment. I mean, what if our daughter potty trains but he doesn’t know how to cancel the monthly diaper shipment? 
 

Change of Address

This was started when we PCS’d the first time–a list of where we need to officially change our address. (Student loans, banks, credit cards, car loans, insurance, pet microchips, credit cards, along with a list of my professional organizations for work.)
 

List of Previous Addresses

He needed this for his updated clearance a few years back, so now I keep it written down so we don’t have to wrack our brains or paperwork to find what our apartment number was in 2009. It’s all there in the binder.
 

Children’s Providers/Contacts

I have pages and pages of this one for my EFMP-enrolled child who has multiple specialists. I have the information for all of our providers: the name, address, and phone number for their PCM (ours is off post) and dentist, along with teachers/daycare contacts. 
 

Car Seats

Car seats expire. You also can’t use LATCH after a certain weight. My husband trusts me to keep up on this kind of stuff. We have two seats in each car, plus two travel seats, so I have them listed by location and child to differentiate. I also noted how long we should keep our youngest rear-facing (foreverrrrr!!!) based on weight and the rules for strap placement depending on forward or rear-facing.
 
I can see him rolling his eyes at me now for thinking to write this down, but I guarantee he doesn’t remember these things. So you’re welcome.
 

Child Care Aware Daycare Subsidy

This is a subsidy for military families if you use a daycare that is certified to receive the federal funds. I laid out the process for annual renewal as well as the family ID, login, password, and phone number for contact. 
 

Babysitters

He has some of their contacts but not all of the backups. He will certainly need them more than ever.
 

Social Media

All of my accounts are already logged in on my laptop and phone, but it doesn’t hurt to list passwords here. To many, this may seem insignificant, but I actually have a lot of friends I have met on social media, mainly in a Mom group I’m in as well as a group for parents of children with special needs. Naturally, with the insignificant worries, I would want those people to know if I passed away, so my husband would need access to my account. 
 

Final Wishes

Ironically I didn’t add this until another Military Mom Blogger mentioned it. I don’t have any specific wishes but I did add a final page for this. 
 
I am sure I am missing some things. Through the course of writing this post, I came up with a few other minor things. I added a list of who I typically send school photos to, and how I have the hand-me-downs organized for our younger daughter. So in writing this handy guide for you, I actually helped myself with my own binder!

Hopefully, this will give you a jump-start on what may be beneficial for you to create your “In Case I Die” binder, but I’m also eager to hear what you think I forgot! Leave a comment with what would be in your “In Case I Die” binder!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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4 Responses to My “In Case I Die” Binder: Important (and Neurotic) Info

  1. Avatar
    V December 19, 2019 at 7:11 am #

    This is great! I have something similar, but not as detailed. My husband is amazing, but he does live in a magical world where all the bills are paid and he doesn’t have to worry about the details of the kids schedules. I’ll probably add a few things based on your suggestions.

    • Gretchen
      Gretchen December 19, 2019 at 7:46 am #

      It’s a fine line between “he might need to know this” and “now you’re just being crazy, relax and trust the man you married.” 🤣

    • Avatar
      J January 4, 2020 at 8:23 am #

      Rather than writing down passwords and then needing to remember to keep them up to date, consider setting up a password manager for your family. You can even designate specid people be given access to all your passwords if they request access and you aren’t around to deny them.

      • Gretchen
        Gretchen January 4, 2020 at 8:38 am #

        What a great tool, I didn’t know they existed!

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