All You Need To Know About Organizing Important Documents

Have you ever watched a show about hoarders? Even though the gross stuff is the most compelling, hoarding doesn’t only apply to furniture, expired food and doll collections. It’s also about paperwork. The stuff you throw in drawers and boxes in case you need it. The stuff you never really get around to sorting because you’ve got more pressing things going on in your life.

If you’re not especially excited about tackling those boxes imagine someone else having to do it for you? Someone who doesn’t understand what’s important and what needs to be shredded or recycled?

We all save lots of paper and digital files because it’s better to have something than to need it. You never know when you might require that gas station receipt or old pay stub or quarterly investment report. But imagine the stress your kid, spouse or best friend would feel while digging through boxes or filing cabinets to understand and settle all your financial issues?

Our endgame is simple: Make all the paperwork in your life manageable so you don’t overwhelm the people you leave behind. When it comes time to settle your estate, pay required taxes, and quickly and easily receive benefits they’ll be able to do it all without wanting to resurrect your corpse with the sole purpose of murdering you.

Places You Should Start

Types of paperwork you should gather and put in an easy-to-find folder:

  • Estate Planning: Will, trusts, power of attorney, etc… [Dig Deeper: Estate Docs to Organize and Share]
  • Medical: advance directive, living will, DNR, DNH,
  • Financial and Legal Accounts: insurance policies, bank accounts, credit cards, tax returns, mortgage info, deeds
  • Personal Information: birth certificate, Social Security card, marriage license, divorce decree
  • Professional Contacts: lawyer, accountant, insurance agent, etc..
  • Utilities and Services: Power company, phone/internet/TV provider, cleaning services, electrician, plumber, etc…

[Dig Deeper: Personal Information, Documents, and Accounts to Organize and Share]

Let’s Get Digital: Organizing Passwords

Gather password information for all of your online accounts--email, online banking and finance, social media--as well as for physical items--banking PIN number, computer, cell phone, safe deposit boxes, and combinations to locks or safes.

We understand this is incredibly sensitive information so store these items somewhere safe, and tell someone you trust of the location. This includes family or an attorney, who can securely store these items for you.

Don’t store these items in a safe deposit box, as the bank may require a court order to allow your family to open the box, which will often take more time that you’d like.

You can also securely store your important information, documents, and account info online, with services such as Personal.com. [Dig Deeper: Digital Estate Planning]

Why This Is Important

After a death, your family has to deal with lots of financial and administrative tasks that can quickly become overwhelming. They can spend months digging through drawers and file cabinets and waiting for new statements and bills to arrive just so they can figure out what’s going on. Even then, they might not uncover everything.

With some planning and organization you can relieve a big chunk of that burden by helping your family easily settle your estate, pay required taxes, and quickly receive the benefits they need.

The low-down on all the stuff your family needs to do:

  • Apply for and claim benefits
  • Get through the probate process
  • Close bank accounts
  • Pay any final estate or income taxes

For a full run-down of everything so you don’t leave anything out, use our resource [Checklist: Documents to Organize and Share] or jump right into your Everplan where you can actually get it done right now.

Need More Reasons? Here You Go!

  • Avoid unnecessary charges from ongoing subscriptions
  • Protection from identity theft or fraud
  • Distribute, sell, or donate any personal items that weren’t included in the Will

This is also beneficial while you’re alive too. It can help you budget more effectively and get a complete, real-time financial sense of where you are.

Hope we gave you enough reasons. If you have any more, or have specific experiences with how organized paperwork helped you through a tough situation, please share them with us. Our goal is to do everything possible to make this easier so you can get on with enjoying life.

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