Do you know where your important documents are? We’ve all seen the stories in the news of tragic and sudden accidents that halt the life of a mother or father in their prime. No-one wants to go this way, but knowing that loved ones left behind aren’t scrambling to figure out where our current insurance policy, financial information and pertinent passwords are located, while going through the grieving process, can give us peace of mind.
Even if your papers are pretty organized and makes sense to you, that doesn’t mean that other family members know where they are. So, it’s a good idea to have a list of all of your important household information, including where your important documents are located. This is also a good habit to have in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.
The best case scenario would be to have a spreadsheet of all important information, including where to find certain documents, e.g. file, safe, safety deposit box. This spreadsheet would be printed and given to a trusted family member and/or lawyer, with a copy at home in a safe place. If your list includes personal details, SSNs, bank account info, it’s recommended that the listed is stored in a fire and waterproof safe, ideally with a copy on a flash drive and/or secure online back-up service.
Here’s a list to get you started:
- Will and Power of Attorney
- Final arrangement wishes
- Life insurance
- Other policies, e.g. car, home.
- Advance Directive
- Monthly bills and contact info.
- All bank and savings accounts
- Medical information, including doctors, medications, allergies, etc.
- Retirement accounts
- Location of vital records, e.g. birth and marriage certificates, etc.
- Loans, including mortgage information and deeds
- Passwords and logins
- Safety deposit box contents and location
- Off-site storage unit info, if applicable
For you, there could be less documents, or more documents. Everyone’s situation will be different, so take the time to think about what other information you should include and schedule some time to get started. Remember that you’re not going to be able to get this all done in a day, so break it up into smaller tasks to prevent procrastination!
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