Jumping down the rabbit hole of getting our affairs in order can seem like another chore on top of our full days. And where to start? The idea seems overwhelming – paperwork, copies, notarizing, legal counsel and fees. Questions add to our procrastination: What if I can’t find it? What if I don’t really know what my account numbers are? What if I can’t finish – does this just create more clutter?
There are many lists and suggestions of “in case of emergency” documents that everyone should have together, but when there are multiple people in your household, or multiple dependents – the task can seem confusing and overwhelming. I’ve thought of some suggestions of how to start the task, and then how to add to the folder or portfolio as time allows.
Stage 1: Locating documents.
Some of these are easier than others. Creating a physical file AND an electronic copy of these documents is vital in our new era of technology. Requests for “soft copies” or the need to provide 3 or 4 documents at a time makes it easier to utilize the electronic versions.
Suggestions for these documents can be found on our website – InsureYouKnow – but some of the easier ones are – Driver’s License, Social Security Card, Medical Insurance Card and Passport. Some of the trickier ones are Birth Certificate, Wedding License, Mortgage/Lease Paperwork and Vehicle Titles and may require you to reach out to the county office to apply for a copy.
Stage 2: Creating Lists.
If you are like me – making lists is easy. The hard part is filling in the information and remembering to update them. There are three types of lists that are important for ongoing upkeep.
Assets/Liabilities: Meaning – what do I have and what do I owe. Do you own property, land, business? Where do you put your money – bank, credit union, bonds, 401K? The liabilities are the companies you pay bills to – electric, cell phone, mortgage, pest control, car insurance. Essentially it’s the things that are in your head, but not documented in one place and certainly not available for all.
Contacts: Meaning – who are your most important people. Start with the top 10 list of people that you would like to know that a life change has happened. This doesn’t have to be in catastrophic instances – the lottery win would be a fantastic opportunity to utilize this list. Many times, there would be overlap in the lists for household members. Examples are children, siblings, parents, partners.
Medications: Most of us have this handy but is a good practice to have a medication list to share with a household member during an emergency or if we are unable to make it to the pharmacy for refills. There are several apps and templates available online to keep the lists uniform. A short narrative of the medical history can also be put with this list.
Stage 3: Fill in the gaps
As you get deeper in the rabbit hole, it will be clear that there’s items that you need to research further, and involve other parties. Examples include healthcare directives and living wills. These often need to be notarized to be valid and sometimes require a witness or legal professional. There are many options online but having conversations with those that you trust may uncover a resource that you can utilize that saves money, time and headache.
As you start putting all your documents together, consider using InsureYouKnow.org – an online information-safe, as a place to store them. This product gives you the ability to access documents, and files remotely – or from the comforts of your own home. There are various levels of access to allow your family members, caregivers or business associates insight into your documents – as needed. There is even a trusty reminder feature to help you remember that it’s time to update.