As September is Emergency Preparedness Month, I wanted to focus on some tools to help you keep your life organized. Should the spouse who handles a family’s financial affairs die, the surviving spouse should be able to refer to a book or document and easily find vital personal and financial information during a critical time. By documenting your records and where original files are located, you can also broach the subject of your family’s finances with elderly parents or adult children in a non-threatening way.
There are several commercially available products to help you stay organized. “Life Organizer: The Essential Record Keeper and Estate Planner” is a ring-bound book by Nancy Randolph Greenway that walks you through the process of documenting your financial life with an emphasis on estate planning. The organizer is divided into eight sections, including, Family and Beneficiaries; Property and Investment Records; Insurance; Retirement and Business; My Will, Trusts and Gifts, and Resources and Advisers.
TheLegacyDrawer.com offers organizer binders with more than 30 sections to organize your family’s personal records and financial information. The binders contain plastic sleeves for document storage. It also has practical tips and suggestions for organizing your important papers and information outside of the organizer, such as child identification information.
LifeatHand.com offers several organizer system options to fit your family’s needs, including lockable, heat and water resistant cases, portable travel versions, as well as, digital versions stored on an encrypted USB flash drive.
Regardless of what system you use, in an emergency, you or your loved ones should be able to grab your personal records organizer and document locator and have almost everything you would need to get your affairs in order.
William G. Lako, Jr., CFP®, is a principal at Henssler Financial, and a co-host on Atlanta's longest running, most respected financial talk radio show "Money Talks" airing Sundays at 10 a.m. on Talk 920 AM, WGKA.