After we have worked with a client to create an estate or long-term care plan, we often discuss with whom copies of their advance health care directive or financial power of attorney should be shared. This might include a doctor’s office, hospital, financial institution, or the agent named in the document. It is important for at least the designated agent (or, in the case of a will, the personal representative) to know you have selected her or him for that role, where the document giving the “authority” can be found (if a copy is not given then), and what your wishes are.

However, when someone becomes incapacitated or dies, there are many other pieces of information your personal representative may suddenly find he or she needs. In highlighting this issue, the New York Times described the examples of a man who was stalled in his efforts to carry out his father’s wishes for a burial in Arlington National Cemetery until he found his father’s discharge papers and a father who told his daughter the passwords for his business on his deathbed.

Erik Dewey has attempted to make gathering this information for loved ones easier by creating The Big Book of Everything. Individuals may download it for free from his website and use it to compile the information loved ones, personal representatives, and agents under powers of attorney may need. Of course, information of this sensitive nature should only be shared with people in whom you have the utmost trust.

You may download The Big Book of Everything from Erik Dewey’s website and read more about this issue in “There’s More to Estate Planning Than the Will.