You have probably heard the phrase “getting your affairs in order” tossed around, but what does it actually mean?
Begin with the Basics
Everyone’s “affairs” look different. Spouses, children, pets, income, property, etc. all play a role in determining which documents you need to gather. However, it is best if you begin with the basics. Compile a document with the following information:
- Full legal name
- Date of birth
- Social security number
- Work history
- Educational records
- Names of spouse and/or children
- An updated list of contacts (family members, doctor, lawyer, etc.)
- Final documents (such as your last will and testament)
After you type up your basic information, you will need to start gathering additional documents.
Gather these Valuable Documents
Not sure what documents you need to have in order? It is best to discuss this with your lawyer, but generally speaking, these are the documents you will need:
- Social Security Card
- Marriage License (if applicable)
- Property Deeds and Vehicle Titles
- Bank Account Statements
- Life Insurance Policy
- Insurance Information
- Most recent income tax return
- Mortgage Statement
- Living Will
- Last Will and Testament
Remember, not everyone’s information looks the same. If you have questions about your legal documents, call a legal expert. It is always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Simple Steps to Get Your Affairs in Order
Gathering all your information into one place can seem overwhelming, which is why it is important to take it one step at a time.
1. Work your way down the list.
As the old saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Work on documents one by one until your checklist has been marked complete. Not only will this make things feel manageable, it helps you stay organized.
2. Review everything with your lawyer.
Run each document past your lawyer to ensure nothing important is missed.
3. Keep your family in the loop.
Getting your affairs in order does little good if your family does not know they are in order. Let your loved ones know where you choose to store important documents, who your attorney is, and any other important information. Too often, family members forget the details, or, many people don’t want their will location to be known prior to their passing so the will doesn’t disappear from a disgruntled family member. Registering your will online allows the location of your will to remain private until your passing. Only those listed on the registration will be allowed to have access. Online registries have now become standard practice with Attorneys and the Public.
4. Store everything in a safe place.
Make sure you store your important documents in a safe place. Some individuals choose to use physical safes, a desk or file, with a friend/relative, or with their attorney. With technology, many are storing their information in online databases.
The U.S. Will Registry was founded in 1997 to fill an important gap. Registration of a will assures that the location of your will can found 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.