Important Document Organization Can Save Time, Money and Grief

Consumer Reports’ blog had a great article today about having your documents  organized in case of emergency.  I’m reproducing their included table here and linking to them.  I figure if maybe I link enough times they won’t ask me to remove it.

The  good news is that I already do most of this.  Spending so many y ears as an insurance agent I saw the value in these preparations.   Something I also recommended that I don’t see here is a written and video inventory of your possessions, including as much detail as possible (where bought, how  much paid) expecially for the big ticket items.

TYPE OF STORAGE DOCUMENT(S) KEEP A COPY? WHERE TO STORE DUPLICATE?
SAFE-DEPOSIT BOX Birth and death certificates; marriage license; adoption, citizenship, divorce papers Yes Home file
Inventory and photos of household property Yes Home file
Deeds, titles, bills of sale, car title, mortgage Yes Home file
List of location of important papers Yes Home file
HOME FILE CABINET Tax returns; supporting documents for past 3 to 7 years No
Passport No
Bank-account information Yes Friend’s or relative’s home or at your office
Insurance policies No
List of all assets, including brokerage and mutual-fund accounts, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, real property, and employee-benefit accounts Yes Friend’s or relative’s home or at your office
ATTORNEY’S OFFICE Will, durable power of attorney Yes Home file and executor or personal representative
Funeral instructions Yes Friend or relative
Living will, health-care power of attorney Yes Home file, physician, personal representative
Location of safe-deposit box Yes Joint owner, friend, or relative
WALLET Driver’s license or other photo I.D. yes Home file
Auto insurance card Yes In car
Emergency contacts No
Blood type, list of allergies, medications No

I don’t know about you, but I know it would help calm me in the time of an emergency to know that much of the information I need is safe and sound, organized and easily accessible.  And when we lose someone we love our grief is tempered slightly by the knowledge that they cared enough to prepare and make the logistics of dealing with the aftermath as easy as possible.

Go forth and organize!

Deal of the Day July 1, 2008

This Deal of the Day comes to you from a great blog I read called My Money Blog, which I found out about via I’ve Paid For This Twice Already…‘s post Writing A Will, Online Style. Check both blogs out for great info!

On a recent episode of the Suze Orman TV show, she announced that you can go to her website and get her Online Will & Trust kit for free for a limited time. Via Slickdeals. Here’s how to get it:

  • Go to SuzeOrman.com.
  • Click on Will & Trust Kit link on upper left menu.
  • Click the orange Gift Code button.
  • Type in the code “people first”.

The software includes the ability to create a will, a revocable trust, Financial Power of Attorney, and an Advanced Directive / Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. One less reason for putting off doing one of these if it’s free! )

I don’t think these are for people with large or complex estates, but check it out if you think it might work for you. And I’m going to recommend having an attorney look over the documents when you’re done. It will be less than them compiling them from start to finish, but you can make sure you’ve done it rightm abd that any unusual things in your situation are handled correctly.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Don’t Let the Dust Settle Before the Dust Settles

Most people don’t know they’re about to die. Even if we understand that we’ll not live forever, we’re thinking our date with destiny is years in the future.

So, many of us don’t talk about life insurance. We don’t talk about about writing a will. We don’t set up trusts for our children. We procrastinate partially because of time, partially because of money, but mostly, I think, because we just don’t want to think about what it will be like when we’re not here, what we’ll miss and what life will be like for those we leave behind.

We need to do it anyway. And once you go through the time, expense and emotional upheaval, be sure to revisit it yearly and go through it all over again. Otherwise you may wind up like Heath Ledger, who died suddenly and unexpectedly, never having updated his will after his daughter Matilda was born.

So, now Matilda will have to rely on the kindness of her grandparents and aunt to receive father’s financial legacy. I’m sure Heath would not have wanted it that way, and I’m confident his family will abide his wishes, at least as best they can.

But it would have been so much easier for everyone if Heath had just updated his will.

So, if you haven’t communicated your final wishes, and put it down on paper, please do. And if you already have everything in order, please review it today. And review it whenever there’s a change in your circumstances. And once a year anyway.

It’s worth doing.

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