“A gift you can give your family and yourself is having all of your financial paperwork organized.”
Thanksgiving week and the upcoming Christmas holiday is a time to celebrate and gather around the table with our families. CBS Boston’s article, “Our Families: The Important Papers,” suggests that it’s also an opportunity to talk about your family and money. Some questions to ask include, what if something happens to you … does someone know where all the important papers are located?
It’s a wise plan to have a responsible person in your life who can access your important papers at every age. You should also make sure that your important paperwork is organized and filed so they can find it, so they don’t have to ransack your home looking for these documents.
Begin by making a list of important people and their contact information. You should also make the list of where the important documents are located.
Think about this for a minute: you live in State A, and your widowed sister lives in State B. If something should happen to your sis, you may be hundreds of miles away. Do you have the phone numbers for her friends and the next-door neighbor? What about a list of the important people in her life. How about her doctor’s info? Get that contact information, just in case you need it.
OK, now think about what would happen if you had an accident in another state while visiting this week for Thanksgiving and needed someone back home to find your important documents. Are you organized and prepared so you could tell them exactly where to find them? Could they pay the bills while you were in the hospital out of state?
Next, think about your estate planning. If you don’t have a will when you pass away, your assets will be divided by a judge according to the state statutes.
Make sure you’ve talked to an estate planning attorney about a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy. These are important because a power of attorney lets someone to act on your behalf legally and financially if you become incapacitated. A health care proxy allows someone to make medical decisions for you, if you are unable to do so.
Reference: CBS Boston (November 21, 2016) “Our Families: The Important Papers”