How Do I Prioritize Organization of my Documents?

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Organization can be helpful for future planning.

Many people jump into Spring cleaning during this time of year.

They have a list of projects they want to tackle before the oppressive heat of summer.

Sometimes these projects are thwarted by uncooperative weather like we have been experiencing in Overland Park of late.

According to a recent Daily Journal article titled “How to get your affairs in order,” estate planning organization can be accomplished on those days when your other plans become impossible.

Organization should be a priority.
Financial and estate planning documents require thorough organization.

Many people do a poor job at keeping their financial, personal, and legal information in order.

This can lead to significant frustrations in the event of incapacity and death.

Loved ones, executors, and trustees may find their responsibilities hindered by the inability to locate the documents needed.

What can you do?

Begin first by listing important individuals.

These can include friends or professionals like accountants, brokers, doctors, insurance agents, and lawyers.

Be sure to list the full names, phone numbers, email addresses, and office addresses where these people can be reached.

Next, you should gather and organize your medical and health care information.

Have you been diagnosed with specific illnesses or allergies?

Do have you have standing prescription medications?

If yes, be sure to include these in your list.

You should also assemble and prioritize the organization of your personal documents.

These include your birth certificate, Social Security card, tax records, marriage license, or military discharge papers (i.e., DD214).

In recent years, digital assets have become more prevalent.

Online banking accounts, social media accounts, and online portals for utilities and other services should be reviewed.

Create a list with usernames and passwords to be kept in a secure location outside of your last will and testament.

Do you have pets?

You will need to record instructions for the care of these animals should something happen to you.

If you have strong opinions regarding “anatomical gift,” then make sure these are properly recorded.

It can also be helpful to preplan and pay for your funeral or memorial services.

If you do make advance preparations, make sure you keep a copy of the agreements and the contact information for the service provider.

Your estate planning should also be a priority in your organization efforts.

You should have the original copy of your advance health care directive, anatomical gift declaration, general durable power of attorney, last will and testament, revocable living trust, and any other estate planning documents.

Store these in a safe place where your agents, attorney in fact, executor and/or successor trustee will be able to quickly locate and access them in the event of your incapacity or death.


They will need to have a comprehensive list of your brokerage accounts, bank accounts, mutual fund accounts, and other financial assets to pay bills and make distributions.

While you are at it, inventory your liabilities and debts.

These include car loans, student loans, credit card debts, medical bills, and mortgages.

Include the list of all active credit cards with the numbers and contact information.

Doing so enables you to better plan to pay off debts as well as to provide an accurate appraisal of your estate when you die.

Does your company have benefits?

If yes, your organization should include listing health benefits, pensions, and retirement plans from current and former employers.

Be sure to include how to contact the administrator of the benefits as well.

List your insurance policy numbers.

These include life, long-term care, auto, home, and Medigap policies, as well as contact information for the agents.

Finally, inventory your property.

This includes vehicles and real estate whether owned, rented, or leased.

Be sure to track down titles, deeds, and lease or loan agreements.

Once you have gathered all of these items, you should store them in a fireproof safe or filing cabinet and share the location with trusted individuals.

Organization of your financial and estate planning documents is not a one-time endeavor.

You should review, update, and organize your plan every few years.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Reference: Daily Journal (Jan. 6, 2022) “How to get your affairs in order”

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