Organize Your Important Information – Just Do It!

Tip – Consider taking time now to organize your records and give your
agents appropriate instructions.

Many people understand the importance of keeping their estate planning documents—Will, Trust and Powers of Attorney—in a safe place. People should also consider gathering all their personal information and put it into a binder, where it will be in one place. A planner or binder provides the framework that your agents will need to carry out their eventual responsibilities in an orderly, informed way.

To get started, begin gathering biographical information—birth certificates, marriage certificates, insurance policies, financial/investment information, social security cards, retirement/pension information, personal/family information, etc. It’s also beneficial to have a list of real estate assets, tax information, credit cards, automatic bill-pay, safe deposit boxes and password-protected software or devices.

Next, begin to organize your planner. It’s a good idea to have labeled tab dividers and plastic sheets for inserting related documents. Place your estate planning legal documents in your binder along with instructions for your agents. This keeps all your important information at the fingertips of the people that will be assisting you.

Assembling the rest of your information will take time, don’t expect to do it in one or two sittings. To accomplish this, set aside one-or two-hour windows to work on your planner until you’re done. Make short lists of follow-up tasks and check off each item as you finish it. Pacing yourself will help you make progress without becoming discouraged. (See Nolo “Get it Together, Organize your Records So Your Family Won’t Have to.”)

Having a complete planner with all the important information in one place can avoid the perils of incomplete planning. For example, one lady had everything her family needed, including information about a safe deposit box—with the key taped to an index card, but unfortunately forgot to include where the box was located! She had moved several times, and the family had no idea where the safety box was, even though they had the key. By having all the necessary information and documents in place, your agents will then be ready to step in, in the case of incapacity or death.

View our “Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” on our website! Packer Elder Care Law – with you for life!

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

February 2023