Personal, Financial and Legal Record Organization - Part 1

Fall 2016

by Marge Buccholz, CPA/ABV, CVA

Did you ever have to look for something and you just couldn’t find it? You know you’ve got it somewhere and you had it put safely in a certain place, but everywhere you look it’s just not there.  It’s frustrating when you can’t find even that one thing you are looking for. Now think about what will happen when you pass away and your family has to not only work through the difficult grieving process, but in the midst of that, take care of all the specifics to settle your estate.  Will they know where to find everything they will need?  Will they miss something important? Keeping your paperwork organized has tremendous benefits for you and your family.
It is difficult when a loved one passes away, whether it’s unexpected or the result of a long illness. Death is never an easy subject to talk about, but it is fact of life.  People think that if they have a will or estate plan in place, that that’s enough for your loved ones to get everything settled.  Although it’s a great start, there is so much more to think about.   Do your loved ones have all the information they need to get your estate settled, such as contact numbers, account numbers, document location?
The thought of getting all this information in order can be overwhelming, but think of the peace of mind it will give you.  You’ll know that all your wishes are being followed and your loved ones aren’t adding to their heartache by stressing out because they can’t find the necessary information. 
You will want to take some time to organize your personal records to make things easy to find.  Here are some steps you can take to get started.
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 of all 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 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, and there’s still so much more to think about. 
It is also important to have your personal wishes documented. If you have preplanned funeral arrangements in place or have prepaid your funeral, is your family aware of this?  Where is 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?  
Winter, Kloman, Moter & Repp, S.C. has been helping our clients take their important information and arrange it in a manner that is easy for their family to find, follow and understand.  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.
Be sure to check out the winter, 2016 Issue of the WKMR Connection for part 2 of this article.