May 1, 2020
Authored by: Tiffany McKenzie
At this point you’ve probably cleaned out your closets and garage or tackled that home improvement project you’ve been wanting to do since you moved into your home. Maybe you’ve even made banana bread, Dalgona whipped coffee or watched Tiger King and all three seasons of Ozark. But what have you done to ensure your personal and family organization? One of the most important DIY projects that has been overlooked is the compilation, organization and maintenance of your important documents and records.
There is no better time than now to get your financial and estate planning documents in order!
Some of the information you should organize and compile is:
Contact Information: Create a list of all of the important people in your life (including their contact information). This list can include people like your attorney, your CPA, your named Executors and Trustees, your financial advisor, your insurance agents, your doctors, your healthcare agents, and your business managers.
Personal Information: Compile copies of your driver’s license, passport, green card, social security card, safety deposit box information, birth certificate, marriage certificate, combinations to safes, and military service records. Pro Tip: duplicate your wallet! It’s a great way to keep a track of financial information. Moreover, many of us carry important items in our wallet and it would be a serious inconvenience if it were lost or stolen.
Digital Information: Jot down usernames and passwords for computers, e-mail accounts, financial accounts, social media, iCloud, and your other important digital accounts. This can also include wallet keys for digital currencies and include a list of your frequent flyer points or credit card points. Pro Tip: use Facebook and Google’s online tools to name someone to take over your accounts should something happen to you!
Legal Documents: Put all your important legal documents in one physical or electronic folder. This can include copies of your will, trusts, financial powers of attorney, healthcare directives, divorce records, deeds, automobile titles, promissory notes, and operating agreements for entities.
Insurance Policies: Gather all insurance policies in one physical or electronic folder. This can include medical, dental, life insurance, personal property, automobile, real property, long term care policies, and insurance for valuable art. Pro Tip: now is a great time to catalogue all of your valuable tangible items like jewelry and art for insurance appraisals!
Tax Documentation: Pull together at least the last 7 years of tax documentation into one physical or electronic folder. This can include income, gift, business and payroll taxes, or the information you need to prepare future tax returns.
Business Records: Compile operating agreements, board minutes, insurance and worker’s compensation records, intellectual property records, trademark records, contracts and vendor agreements, loan records, and make a list of all of the important people and vendors needed for your business to run successfully.
It doesn’t matter the form in which you compile this information – it can be physically stored at your home or stored electronically, provided it’s stored on a secure website, device or software. What does matter is that you at least tell someone where and how they can access this information! Having this information compiled will be very important for future planning and can help your family and loved ones better take care of your personal and business needs should something happen to you.