Preparing For Your Passing – Part 1

by Sheryll Bonilla, Esq.

As of January 4, 2023, there has been 1,102,275 COVID deaths. The pandemic taught many people that they had to stop putting off this task and get their “papers in order”.  If you’re wondering what you should do to help out your family at this key milestone, here’s some suggestions.

Funeral Plan. Let your family know if you have a funeral plan. If you do, tell them who the plan is with and where the documents are so they know what’s covered and what they have to pay (cost of urn, etc.).

Friends. This list is so your family knows who to notify to let them know you passed.  Your family probably knows who your friends are, but in this age of friends afar, your family may not know their contact information.  You could note your friends’ phone numbers, addresses, or email addresses, to make it easier for your family to pass on news of your death.

Make a list of your assets. A paper trail is important. Note the financial institution, with contact information, and current value. Clip at least one statement for each asset to the list. This informs your family what they need to collect to distribute. The statement is proof of the asset and helps the institution to locate the account and verify ownership.

If you have electronic statements, it’s especially important to print a couple of statements as proof of the existence of the accounts. Your family has to know where your money is kept and the account numbers.

If your family cannot give this information to the bank or investment company, it may be difficult or impossible to get access to their inheritance.

Include a copy of the deed to help the lawyer write a conveyance deed to the heirs.  Many people think “I won’t have the deed till I’m done paying off the loan.”  Not true.  You should have received a copy of your deed when you bought the house / got the home loan.


AssetCurrent ValueInstitutionAccount # / Notes
Checking account$3,000First Hawaiian Bank Mililani Shopping Center  12300094
Home   $245,000$125,000 mortgage with First Hawaiian Bank Mililani Shopping Center  45-234 Makaleha St. Kaneohe  
Car$4,000$800 car loan with American Savings Bank  2013 Toyota Corolla
Mutual funds$12,000Dean Witter Reynolds 1164 Bishop St. #1000 Honolulu, HI  96813  Chad Kaneshiro, financial advisor
Retirement$23,000Thrift Savings PlanU.S. Navy  
Life insurance$50,000State Farm KapoleiRayna Mann, Insurance agent

Make a list of your debts.  Make a chart similar to the one above and again, print a statement and clip it to the back of the list. This helps your family know who to pay, how much to pay, where to send the payment, and how much is owed.

If you have automatic bill payment, it’s important that your family know, so they can leave money in the bank account where the funds are withdrawn or to be able to change from autopay to manual pay.


DebtCurrent DebtInstitutionAccount # / Notes
Car loan$18.000Servco MapunapunaToyota Camry $345 / month due on 1st  
Student loan$12,000Territorial Savings Moanalua$230 / month due on 15th  

Taxes. Your last tax return has to be filed, so let your family know who your tax preparer is. Try to keep your documents in place so your family can take any necessary papers to the tax preparer.

In the next issue’s article, we’ll talk about legal documents that will help your family get access to and distribute your assets.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not to be constructed as offering legal advice. Please consult an attorney for your individual situation. The author is not responsible for a reader’s reliance on the information contained here.

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