“When I Die” File?


After our article “I Signed My Estate Planning Documents…Now What?” on September 19, a client emailed us this Time article asking us what we think.

“Why You Need to Make a “When I Die’ File – Before It’s Too Late

Our short answer is, “We couldn’t agree more!”

On the more serious side, taking time to prepare a “When I Die” file is stressful and can cause anxiety, but it can also be fulfilling and cathartic. Being thoughtful about building the file can actually open new doors.

For example, Darrell is one of two sons and his mother is the keeper of her family’s jewelry. Neither he nor his brother have daughters nor any particular interest in the jewelry.  Darrell had his mother take the time with each piece to write down the story and add a line of the three people who should receive the pieces upon her passing. This process sparked conversations on family history, childhood stories and familial aspirations for the future.

Death is a trying time for a family and having the “When I Die” file prepared, can avoid the “what do we did with this” problem. A perk to having the file ready, is it is also a great answer to the question, “If your house were on fire, and you could only grab one thing, what would it be?”

Building Your “When I Die” File

  • Advance (Healthcare) Directive
  • Estate Documents
    • Wills
    • Trusts, including Certificate of Trust
  • Instructions for your funeral and final disposition
  • Legal Documents & Agreements
    • Wills, Trust, Powers of Attorney
    • Business, Buy/Sell Agreements
    • Employment Agreements
    • Pre/Post-Nuptials or Divorce Decrees
    • Marriage & Birth Certificates
  • Ethical Documents
    • Ethical Will
    • Letters to Family Members
    • Family History & Stories
    • Key Family Photos
  • Account Numbers
    • Holdings
    • Bills
  • Passwords
    • Phone
    • Computer
    • Email
    • Social Media Accounts
      • If you have a Facebook account, you can assign who has administrative rights when you die
    • Any other documents you feel should be at the fingertips of your executors.

NOTE: Your encrypted eMoney Vault is a great place to store your documents


A Beginner’s Guide to the End

Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper

TED Radio Hour

From Our Blog

“I Signed All My Estate Planning Documents…Now What?”

Who Gets My Money?

The Real-Life Value of Digitizing Your Estate Planning Documents

12 Estate Planning Tips and Considerations

A Tale of Two Estates: Planning for the End

Protecting Your Digital Life

Protecting Separate and Inherited Assets



Third-party links are provided solely to share social, cultural and educational information. Any reference in this post to any person, or organization, or activities, products, or services related to such person or organization, or any linkages from this post to the web site of another party, do not constitute or imply the endorsement, recommendation, or favoring of HighTower St. Louis Wealth Advisors or HighTower Advisors, LLC, or any of its employees or contractors acting on its behalf.


HighTower St. Louis is registered with Hightower Securities, LLC, member FINRA and SIPC, and with Hightower Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor with the SEC. Securities are offered through Hightower Securities, LLC; advisory services are offered through Hightower Advisors, LLC.

This is not an offer to buy or sell securities. No investment process is free of risk, and there is no guarantee that the investment process or the investment opportunities referenced herein will be profitable. Past performance is not indicative of current or future performance and is not a guarantee. The investment opportunities referenced herein may not be suitable for all investors.

All data and information reference herein are from sources believed to be reliable. Any opinions, news, research, analyses, prices, or other information contained in this research is provided as general market commentary, it does not constitute investment advice. The team and Hightower shall not in any way be liable for claims, and make no expressed or implied representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of the data and other information, or for statements or errors contained in or omissions from the obtained data and information referenced herein. The data and information are provided as of the date referenced. Such data and information are subject to change without notice.

This document was created for informational purposes only; the opinions expressed are solely those of the team and do not represent those of Hightower Advisors, LLC, or any of its affiliates.