We have all been told that we should keep “important papers in a safe place”. But what is considered an “important paper”? Please keep in mind this is a starting place. You may have other information or documents you want to include. For example, if you have a pet, you will want to include the name and address of your veterinarian.
- Full legal name
- Social Security number
- Legal residence
- Date and place of birth
- Names and addresses of spouse and children
- Location of birth and death certificates and certificates of marriage, divorce decree, citizenship, and adoption
- Employers and dates of employment
- Education and military records (DD-214 or any discharge papers)
- Names and phone numbers of religious contacts
- Memberships in groups and awards received
- Names and phone numbers of close friends, relatives, Elder Law Attorney, and financial advisor
- Name and phone numbers of doctors
- Medications taken regularly
- Location of original legal documents
- Sources of income and assets (retirement funds, IRAs, 401(k)s, Social Security statement etc.)
- Social Security and Medicare information
- Insurance information (life, health, long-term care, home) with policy numbers and agents’ names and phone numbers
- Names of your banks and account numbers (checking, savings, credit union)
- Investment income (stocks, bonds, property) and stockbrokers’ names and phone numbers
- Copy of most recent income tax return
- Liabilities (including property tax), what is owed, to whom, when payments are due
- Mortgages and debts – how and when paid
- Location of original deed of trust for home and car title
- Credit and debit card names and numbers
- Location of safe deposit box and key
Steps for Getting Your Affairs in Order
Put your important papers and copies of legal documents in one place. You could set up a file, put everything in a desk or dresser drawer, or just list the information and location of papers in a notebook. If your papers are in a bank safe deposit box, keep copies in a file at home. Check each year to see if there’s anything new to add.
Be sure to tell a trusted family member or friend where you put all your important papers. You don’t need to tell this friend or family member your personal affairs, but someone should know where you keep your papers in case of emergency.
Give consent in advance for your Elder Law Firm to talk with your family. There may be questions about your care, a bill, or a health insurance claim. Without your consent, your family may not be able to get needed answers.