Whether you are younger or older, organizing your end of life documents should be a priority. Not only does it ensure your final wishes are carried out, but it also protects your loved ones from the stress in case of an unexpected accident.
How can you organize your end of life documents? First, make sure you have created all the necessary files.
Checklist of Documents
Before your family can settle things with an estate lawyer, they will need access to the following information.
- Official obituary and certificate of death (of course, there is no way to provide these ahead of time!)
- Legal marriage certificate
- Social security card
- Medicare card
- Current bills
- Driver’s license
- Life insurance policy
- Employment benefits
- Summary of assets
- Real estate deeds
- Retirement plans
- Stocks and bonds
- Joint bank accounts
- Insurance information
- Last will and testament
- Logins and Passwords to online accounts
All of these documents work together to show what you have, what you owe, what’s leftover, and what you want to be done with your assets.
Tips for Organizing Your End of Life Documents
Before attempting to organize them, go through the list of necessary documents, and gather copies of each. Some documents require notarization, while others you can simply pull from past records.
Consider these tips for organizing your end of life documents:
1. Take time to develop a file plan.
File plans can seem outdated in a technical world, but they are helpful when it comes to keeping things organized. Clearly label files, and keep copies of all your documents in a locked file box.
2. Keep everything in a home safe.
Even if you don’t use a file plan, home safes are a great place to lock your important documents. If you use original copies, make sure you use a fire-proof safe as protection against potential home disasters.
3. Store digital copies.
If you aren’t a fan of keeping track of hard copies, consider scanning your documents and keeping digital copies. Store digital copies so that individuals with the proper authority can access them when necessary.
4. Communicate with loved ones.
Whatever approach you decide to take, make sure you let your loved ones know. The grieving process is made more difficult by confusion and frustration, so tell them ahead of time where they can find your important documents.
Looking for a Safe Online Resource?
The U.S. Will Registry was founded in 1997 to fill an important gap. The location of your registered will or other end-of-life documents is stored in a database for later access. We provide families and beneficiaries with a means to find lost wills and estate planning documents of those who have passed away.