What Exactly is an “Important Paper” and how do you get “organized?’

As life becomes complicated, you become incapacitated, you are living alone, or if you just want to be prepared for emergencies; it is very important to organize your important papers so that loved ones can pick up the pieces in a moment’s notice. When I speak to a client who wants to prepare a will, I often tell that client to gather all of your important papers and information into one place so that another person might know how to find such information for you.

But, what is that “important paper” that should be gathered up and stored in an easy to access location?

Here’s a partial list of items you can use to get “organized.”

Personal Records

ˉFull legal name
ˉSocial Security number
ˉLegal residence
ˉDate and place of birth
ˉNames and addresses of spouse and children
ˉLocation of birth and death certificates and
certificates of marriage, divorce, citizenship, and adoption
ˉEmployers and dates of employment
ˉEducation and military records
ˉNames and phone numbers of religious contacts
ˉMemberships in groups and awards received
ˉNames and phone numbers of close friends, relatives, and lawyer or financial advisor
ˉNames and phone numbers of doctors
ˉMedications taken regularly
ˉLocation of Living Will

Financial Records

ˉSources of income and assets (retirement funds, IRAs, 401(k)s, interest, etc.)
ˉSocial Security and Medicare information

ˉInsurance information (life, health, long-term care, home, car) with policy numbers and
agents’ names and phone numbers

ˉNames of your banks and account numbers (checking, savings, credit union)

ˉInvestment income (stocks, bonds, property) and stockbrokers’ names and phone numbers

ˉCopy of most recent income tax return(s)

ˉLocation of most up-to-date will with an original signature

ˉLiabilities, including property tax– what is owed, to whom, when payments are due

ˉMortgages and debts– how and when paid

ˉLocation of original deed of trust for home and car title and registration

ˉCredit and debit card names and numbers

ˉLocation of safe deposit box and key

Bottom Linie– In the event you should die or have some catestrophic emergency, these simple organizational items will start those loved ones moving in your best interest.