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Getting Your Records Organized

BY Marge Buchholz, CPA/ABV, CVA
08/06/2013 - 12:08pm

Have you thought of putting a planner together for your own benefit and eventually, the benefit of your family? A planner that contains the critical information your family needs to know, including important personal, legal and financial information. Perhaps you feel the need to get organized but don’t know where to start. Any adult can benefit from making a planner and getting your records organized, but some people may find this process particularly helpful.

Senior citizens - Seniors can use a planner to smooth the process for caregivers and survivors. Those close to you will view this planning document as a gift. This will save these people an immense amount of work during an already difficult time.

Travel – Leave your records and affairs in order if you are planning on leaving town for personal travel or military deployment.

Serious illness – While you are able, document your wishes for medical care, name someone to take care of your finances, and document your funeral and burial information in the event of your death.

Caretaker to a family member or other person – Help your family member or friend get a planner completed that includes their personal wishes. It will probably be a great relief for them to have someone help them with the process.

Start the organization process with small steps such as the following:

  • Create a list of all your financial information including: bank accounts, insurance policies, investment accounts and income sources. Include the account numbers, passwords, the contact person and phone number for each.
  • Create a list that contains all of you and your family’s personal information including: names, social security numbers, important dates (birth, marriage, divorce etc.).
  • Document what is in your safe deposit box.
  • If you have a will drafted, make sure that it is updated with your most current beneficiaries. If you haven’t drafted one yet, make sure to do so.
  • If you have children, make sure you’ve named a guardian for them.
  • Put all this information into a centralized location and tell someone where it is. This makes it easy for your loved ones to find the information they need, instead of having to search high and low in different places for different pieces of information.

While organizing this basic information is very important, these are really just some of the basic first steps to take, there’s still so much more to think about. Recently one of my clients came to me after trying to get their information organized by themselves. She shared with me that until she started the process, she didn’t realize how many small details there were to think about and how time consuming it can really be.

It’s important to get your financial information organized, and to have your personal wishes spelled out as well. If you have preplanned funeral arrangements in place or have prepaid your funeral, is your family aware of this? Where are your safe deposit box and the keys? Do you have any pets and if so who will take care of them when you pass away?

Remember, whether, you’re in your twilight years or just starting a family, it’s never too early to start getting your information organized. So if you need assistance with the process, we can help give you the peace of mind in knowing your family and loved ones won’t have to struggle in fulfilling your wishes. Give us call, we would be happy to help you.