Organizing your documents and keeping them safe.

documentsjpgAt any stage of life it is important to have your documents and financial affairs organized and in a safe place in case you are incapacitated or pass away unexpectedly. Your family, caregivers and/or friends need to know where to obtain documents pertaining to your healthcare directives, long-term care plans, your financial assets and income, debts and expenses, your will, wishes for dispensing of your personal items and burial wishes. The more detailed you are with you intentions the easier it is for those you have entrusted to follow your wishes when you are unable to directly participate.

Documents that you should have executed include a Health care directive or LIVING WILL and a WILL, aka Last Will and Testament. All healthcare directives are not the same so make sure included are a DO NOT RECUCITATE (DNR) if you want this. Also include a DO NOT HOSPITALIZE (DNH) if this is right for you. They both require a physician order so make sure you ask these important questions of your physician when you prepare these documents if you are unsure.

This would also be a good time to ask if you might be an organ donor. If yes, make a note, sign it, have it signed by a witness and include it with your papers.

A Will and Living Will are less easily contested if they are created by a lawyer and notarized but you can also download a general template for each on the internet, fill it out and have a friend sign as witness for you. Wills often include places to note your remembrance and burial wishes.

Make a list of all of your financial and legal consultants with their names, phone numbers, email address and list the accounts that they service.

Make a list of your banks with addresses, account numbers and personal banker if you have one. List any safe deposit boxes with numbers and include a set of keys in the file. Make sure you have a trusted member of your family as a cosignatory on your safety deposit box so they can have access when you are unable to.

Make a list of, or keep a file with a copy of all of your monthly bills, debts, credit cards with credit card numbers. Do the same with the names, contact information and account numbers of all of your income sources.

Make a list of all of your assets, where they are located and who is the contact person for that item or property. Also list all of your personal items and note to who you would like to give each item to with their contact information.

Include a notarized copy of your birth certificate, a copy of your driver’s license, passport and marriage certificate. You may include copies of your children’s birth certificates and their names and contact information as well.

Make a copy of all of your medical insurance cards on both sides, and prescription information with doses as well.

Once you have created all of these documents it is important to keep them safe from water and fire. Purchasing a waterproof and fireproof safe is a wonderful investment. When you have these document safely tucked away at home you have daily access to them to update at your convenience. You may also keep these items in a bank safety deposit box. It does mean a yearly fee, and you must have a secondary signature on the box and give them a key so they can get your information if something happens to you. It is wise to send a copy of everything to your attorney, or another family member for safe keeping as well.

If you take the time now to organize your documents and keep them safe, you and your family will be way ahead of the game if you should face a health challenge, need to plan for Medicaid or Medicare enrollment, or suddenly pass away.