My colleague Matt Bell, with whom I share an office, is a steady advocate for the cause of getting financially organized. I'm not exactly a slouch in that area — I adhere to a well-designed budget, I have automated many of our family's financial transactions, and with help from SMI Private Client, I've streamlined and simplified our retirement holdings.

But I've been delinquent in documenting all the things my wife would need to know about our finances (and several other matters) if I were to pass away or become incapacitated. In fact, I haven't done a full documentation since my three sons were little boys. They're now grown men!

So a few weeks ago, I made a resolution to attack this project. Getting it completed is my goal for August. I'm working on it a little bit each day — writing down account numbers, contact information, passwords, listing various automated transfers, and so on. When done, I'll put a copy of all this information in a secure location for my wife (you don't want to leave this sort of thing lying around!), and I'll also see to it that one of my sons has a copy.

Helpful resources

Now that Matt has inspired me to set my house in order, I am hoping to inspire you! Sure, it's a bit tedious tracking down lots of details and gathering them in one place, but that's an exceedingly small price to pay for easing the "administrative" burden that falls to one's survivors.

To make things less tedious, it helps to start with a workbook of pre-printed forms, i.e., pages already set up for listing bank and investments accounts, medical details, real estate particulars, and other important information. You can find good forms online — some free, some that have a minimal cost.

A few public libraries have downloadable PDF workbooks, such as this one from the Salt Lake County Library in Utah. You simply print the pages and fill them out by hand. Another good free PDF resource is The Big Book of Everything (that's the workbook I'm using). The Big Book of Everything is also available (at no charge) in an Excel spreadsheet that you can type into, which you may find easier than writing things out.

A resource that allows you to type information into a PDF file is 12 Critical Things Your Family Needs to Know (premium digital edition). It costs a few dollars but seems well worth it if you prefer to type rather than handwrite (typing, of course, makes for a much neater finished document).

For an actual hardcopy workbook (i.e., one you don't have to print), Matt has recommended My Family Record Book, which is available via Amazon.

Also, Matt has written previously about a five-week small-group study from Compass–Finances God's Way titled Set Your House in Order. This is the go-to resource if you not only want to get your own house in order but encourage others in your church to do so too. Here is a portion of a video that accompanies the first week of the study.

I know. Setting your house in order is easy to put off. Like me, you may have been putting it off for years.

Resolve to do it. Set a deadline. Ask someone to hold you accountable. And git 'er done. Your loved ones will be glad you did.