The importance of storing your important documents

3rd June 2024
The importance of storing your important documents

Are your documents organised in the event of your sudden death?

For most of us, what happens after we die isn’t something we think about, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

A time of loss is stressful enough without having to piece together the deceased’s financial affairs.

If nobody is aware of where you have stored your important documents, it is going to make the Probate process much harder than it needs to be and could delay beneficiaries’ access to funds.

Also, there is a risk that beneficiaries are not aware of assets they are entitled to without the documentation stating it, therefore they may never be claimed.

According to figures from the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), there is over £400 million sitting in unclaimed pension pots alone.


“In case of death” folder

An in case of death folder is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It is a secure file, either digital or physical, where you keep all your important personal and financial information together.

Your file should be protected so that it is your executors and other trusted persons only that have access to it.


What should be included in the folder?
  • Your Will – Place a copy of your will in the folder alongside any instructions.
  • Certificates/licences – You’ll want to include your birth certificate, marriage licence, divorce papers, birth certificates of your children etc.
  • Any life insurance or retirement paperwork – If you have life insurance, you’ll want to include the policy document, details of any employer death in service benefits, employer, state and personal pension details.
  • Assets – If you own any land or property ensure you’ve got all the documents and deeds together, also any vehicle ownership documents, business ownership agreements, share information, etc.
  • Income sources – Make a list of all your income sources and employee details, particularly ones that your beneficiaries may not be aware of.
  • Monthly expenses – List all your outgoing payments like utilities, rent/mortgage payments, insurance, and subscriptions so that these can either be maintained or cancelled.
  • Other relevant records – For example, document all gifts that you make during your lifetime including dates, recipients, amounts and reasons, where applicable.
  • Contact details – Note down all contact numbers and or email address for necessary parties, for instance your solicitor, your financial adviser, power of attorney etc.
  • Digital vaults – These days you might have lots of information stored in the Cloud, including photos or important documents. If these are in a centrally stored folder, make sure to provide a means of access.
  • Funeral wishes – You may have already mentioned something about your funeral wishes in your Will. Your family may appreciate some further detail, perhaps about the service generally or scattering of ashes etc., which you can include in your file.
  • Personal effects – If your trustees are given discretion over the distribution of your personal effects in your Will, an up-to-date non-binding note of your wishes can also be kept in your file.


Reviewing the folder

Now that you’ve got your folder sorted, it’s important to remember to keep on top of it. Some of the details in there may not change, but others will likely need to be updated frequently.

Common practice is to review it annually.

It may also be wise to put a note in the folder stating when it was last reviewed to make the person accessing it following your death aware of how up to date it is.


The final bit of advice…

There is no point going to all the effort to make sure your file is organised if nobody can find it as it will lead to the same outcome of not making one at all.

Make sure you tell your executors and other trusted persons where it is and how they can access it.


If you are considering making a Will or want advice on what documentation will be needed after your death, then please contact our Wills and Probate team on 01543 267237 or email