Keep important records in order
Have you ever had to take an active role in cleaning up a family member or friend’s estate? If you have, then you likely have been involved in a very tedious process – even for someone that you may have considered to be organized. We have helped many clients deal with this scenario over the years, and to a person, they would agree that it would have been very helpful if they had some sort of a “map” of the person’s affairs. We utilize a very convenient record keeper that we call the “Personal Document Locator” to assist our clients in organizing their affairs.
We include a page with the names and addresses of each client’s personal contacts such as:
- Tax preparer.
- Insurance agent.
- Financial advisor.
You might want to add doctors and other service providers, as well. Trying to sift through someone’s files and mail to find this information can take many more hours than is called for. Having them on paper with phone numbers, addresses and firm names can be very helpful.
We also have added a page for clients to list the various websites that they actively utilize in their daily affairs. We add usernames and passwords, so that loved ones can clean up those sites and close accounts when needed. Many people have Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts that are very difficult or nearly impossible to close when someone dies or is incapacitated. You may have banking and investment accounts that can only be accessed online, as well. Navigation would be much easier for your heirs if they had access using your passwords.
Lastly, you also should have important legal documents stored in a variety of places. We have our clients write each location and disclose which paperwork is where. The list of items you may want to include are:
- Will, power of attorney, health care directives and trust agreements.
- Birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage certificates and military papers.
- Vehicle titles and real estate deeds.
- Safe deposit or home safe locations and key locations.
- Tax returns.
- Insurance documents and policies.
- Investment statements.
- List of valuable items owned and their locations.
- Location of any cash.
The more you have organized, the better the favor you are doing for your survivors! Prepare this information and provide a copy to your estate’s “personal representative” or tell him or her where you keep the list and how to access it if you die or become disabled. If you would like a complimentary copy of our Personal Document Locator, please send an e-mail to email@example.com, and we will send you a copy. Your family members will be very thankful.
Tom McDavitt, located at 102 Shore Drive, Suite 400, Worcester, MA 01605, is a Registered Representative and Investment Adviser Representative and offers securities and advisory services through Commonwealth Financial Network, member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser, and can be reached at (508) 852-6222.