Personal Record Keeping

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personal financial records banking organizationLet’s discuss a few key points to consider regarding simple preparations to make prior to the inevitable big sleep. When done right, you can help to ease a difficult time for your loved ones. When done wrong or not at all, your loved ones may be left stressed and frustrated. After all, there are some loose ends that will need to be addressed after you pass into the unknown. Some basic organization and planning can make things a whole lot easier for those you leave behind. That is why you must organize personal records!

The following are three key points to address to organize personal records:

  1. Life Insurance – Be sure you have life insurance (and the necessary amount of coverage). There is ample information available out there regarding policy types and coverage. Don’t forget to take into consideration your loved one’s current and planned future residential requirements, college, expenses, etc.

  3. Legal – Have a current and up to date Last Will and Testament that clearly outlines your wishes. Setup a Power of Attorney and any Trusts as necessary. Speak to a lawyer (I know – yuck). Many of these services are covered under employer-sponsored legal service plans (check your benefits and availability – you could save a lot of money doing this). Don’t forget to research if you need a living will. It is almost always a good idea to have a living will.

  5. Organize – If you have all your information together, your loved-ones will just rave about how easy you made things for them (not that you’ll really care I guess). Really, look at your pile of bills and that messy file cabinet… If you have stuff scattered all over and it’s hard for you to find, what do you think it will be like for your loved ones when they are already grief-stricken? If you must work with paper, prepare a binder of all important documents including copies of:
  • Your Last Will and Testament, Living Will, and other legal documents

  • Loan information

  • List of creditors with all contact information (credit cards, home loans, auto loans, etc.)

  • List of household utility bills and contact information

  • List of important contacts (lawyer, doctor, accountant, etc.)

  • Banking and investments information (checking, savings, 401k, etc.)

  • Key medical information (you and your children)

  • Social Security cards (you and children)

  • Birth Certificates (you and children)

  • Family health insurance

  • Letters for loved ones

  • Passwords and account information (ATM pins, internet accounts, email, etc.)

  • Any special instructions you might have (where to find your stack of dirty magazines to get rid of)

Seal the information in a large envelope and give it to a trusted friend or loved one. I gave my copies to my brother who is also the Executor of my Last Will and Testament. It may also be best to keep a copy of everything in a safe deposit box.

I have to admit that I procrastinated for quite some time prior to doing this. It was always there in the back of my mind, nagging away. I knew I needed to do this. Realistically, it didn’t take very much to do get this all done. For me, less that $250 and less than a month to do it all (and definitely not working the whole time). There is a peace of mind that came with doing all this… I no longer have that nagging feeling and I have some comfort in knowing my kids will be cared for.

Death is something the vast majority of us hope to avoid for a long, long time. It took me a couple of bad car accidents before I really became determined to get this stuff done. You owe it to your loved ones to put them in the best possible position after you depart. It doesn’t take much work to get this together – get it done.

Check back soon for more information about organizing your information electronically….

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Category: Daily Life, Tips

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