The Cost of Disorganization for U.S. Families is $58 Billion

How much will it cost your family?

The modern conveniences of technology and federal and state laws governing individual property have not yet converged and most Americans struggle to keep up with the basic details of just their financial assets. To even the most organized, the number of accounts, documents, usernames and passwords is overwhelming. The February 2013 issue of Consumer Reports shared that both spouses knew the major details about family finances and where to find account information in only 30 percent of all households.

The $58 billion in unclaimed cash and benefits reported by (January 24, 2013) that is sitting with state treasurers and waiting to be returned to the rightful owners quantifies the current cost of disorganization to American households. Checking accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, paychecks and security deposits lost in the shuffle of a move, disability and death continue to accumulate every year.

Does your family know how to easily navigate your personal, financial, property records and details? Especially for those of us who are small business owners, have you documented your business contacts, selected and trained someone on how to step in for you and created a communications plan to your customers?

Below you will find a list of documents and details you should have stored in one place. You can also download and share a PDF edition to help get your started.

The Essentials

  • Will
  • Living will
  • Do-not-resuscitate order
  • Trust
  • Specific instructions regarding your wishes
  • Durable power of attorney (many financial institutions won’t recognize this if it’s not on their letterhead)
  • Durable healthcare power of attorney
  • Location of documents and as-needed access to safety deposit box or home safe combination

Personal Documents

  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security number
  • Marriage license / divorce papers
  • Driver’s license
  • Military identification / service records
  • Other professional license numbers
  • Immigration documents (if not a U.S. citizen or a new citizen)

Financial Documents

        Each should include website, usernames, passwords and PINs if established.

  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement, investment and brokerage accounts
  • Stock certificates
  • Savings bonds
  • Life insurance policies
  • Loans, debts or mortgage accounts
  • Partnership and corporate operating agreements
  • Tax returns

Medical Documents

  • Personal medical history
  • Family medical history
  • List of prescriptions and dosage
  • List of healthcare providers
  • Medical insurance and any related website, username, passcode and PIN as established

Household Documents

  • Home, land or cemetery deeds
  • Documentation on any home or land improvements with receipts
  • Auto titles
  • Service plan records, schedules and preferred providers
  • Utility accounts and any related website, username, passcode and PIN as established


  • Email
  • Social Media (Facebook, LinkedIn)
  • Online services (Amazon, PayPal, Shutterfly)

I hope you will consider putting all this information in one book that you have shared with your loved ones. You might be surprised to know that they really don’t know where your important papers are or grasp your financial, personal or medical history – all things they should know.

Make it easy on your loved ones by putting this information in one place­­—and tell your loved ones where to find it. The task of helping my parents who had wills, a trust and for which I hold a durable power of attorney was so overwhelming, it fueled me to start MemoryBanc. I had enough people ask for a copy that I published the MemoryBanc Register and began selling it last year. If you need some help putting the materials together, you can opt for the Do-It-Now Service that provides you with 2 two-hour sessions to compile your system. Let us know how we can help you.

All HerCorner members receive a 10% discount by using the coupon code “SheRocks” at

Kay Bransford is the founder and chief curator of MemoryBanc. Kay if focused on helping millions of families get organized, make their lives easier and hang onto their assets. To learn more, visit