You never know when an emergency will happen and other people may need to get access to your financial information and other confidential documents so they can act on your behalf. This is particularly true for financial and/or healthcare powers of attorney you may have assigned to step in in the event you are unable to personally handle your affairs for a short or long-term period.
Having your important documents organized will enable those caring for you to be more efficient allowing them more time to concentrate on your wellbeing rather than your paperwork. Organizing your financial information and personal life information can at first seem like a daunting task when you consider all the accounts, records, legal documents and other important transactions you’ve made throughout your life. However, taking a few small steps at first will get you on your way. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Ensure you have complete and current contact information for important resources. This includes your healthcare and legal powers of attorney, personal attorney and financial advisor, primary care physicians, and family members.
Make sure your insurance information, including policy numbers, agent names and contact info for your personal policies is up-to-date. Include policy numbers for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, disability and any supplemental policies you may have as well. If you have any veterans benefits, be sure to include that information.
Be sure that someone you trust knows where to find things like your safety deposit box keys, your bank account information, house keys, a list of your current passwords and your healthcare directives. Healthcare directives should be in writing and original documents retained with copies given to your healthcare providers. If you have a do-not-resuscitate order, it should be visible to first responders in the event of an at-home emergency.
Know the location of your personal identity documents including your birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, and marriage certificate. Be sure to tell your trusted agent where to find these items as well or leave written instructions for locating them.
Once you have a start on getting organized you’ll find it easier to add more information over time. The more you can do to help organize your paperwork, the more peace of mind you’ll experience.
You may want to look into a technology options to help you organize and store your information. We use ShareFile, a technology solution that allows our clients and/or their assignees secure access to financial, insurance, legal and other documents that have been scanned into the system.
The Society of Certified Senior Advisors® has prepared a detailed tool to help guide you through the process of getting your financial information and other documents organized. If you’d like to get an on-line copy of the SCSA’s Information for Life Kit, please click here and enter webcode:KIT