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 hopes to go this way, but knowing that loved ones left behind aren’t scrambling to figure out where your important documents are, while going through the grieving process, can give you peace of mind.
Even if your papers are organized and makes sense to you, if something were to happen to you, would your loved ones be able to easily find your insurance policy, will, financial information and pertinent passwords?
Organizing your important papers now will help family members find the information they need to handle your affairs, while going through the grieving process. At the very least, have a list of all of your important household information, including a note of where your important documents are located.
In any event, keeping an updated list of your personal and household information is a good habit to have in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.
Are you ready to get started, but not sure where to start? The best case scenario would be to have a spreadsheet with a list 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 list is stored in a fire and waterproof safe, ideally with a copy on a flash drive and/or secure online back-up service.
To get you started, here’s a checklist of common important documents and information:
- Will and Power of Attorney
- Final arrangement wishes
- Monthly bills and contact info.
- Bank and savings accounts
- Loans, including mortgage information and deeds
- Location of vital records, e.g. birth and marriage certificates, etc.
- Other policies, e.g. car, home.
- Off-site storage unit info, if applicable
- Medical information; including doctors, medications, allergies, etc.
- Safety deposit box contents and location
This list is not conclusive. Everyone’s situation will be different, so take the time to think about what other information you could include and schedule some time to get started.