Getting Organized: The Most Important Documents To Have at the Ready

Getting Organized: The Most Important Documents To Have at the Ready

It’s not something anyone wants to really think about, but if something happens and your family needs to access your important records, would they know where to find them? Taking time to sort and organize the documents that will be needed in case of illness or death will prevent frustration and financial strain during what is already going to be a challenging time.

Not many of us think about dedicating time to cleaning out the filing cabinet or the document drawer. It’s low on the priority list, but it’s easier than decluttering the basement or kitchen. Truthfully, if you remain focused, you can go through all the paperwork—tax returns filed more than six years ago, warranties for items we no longer have, receipts for things long past the return window for example—and make it simpler for your loved ones to find what they need in case of a medical emergency or death.

However you choose to organize—separating vital documents into an accordion files, scanning them and saving them digitally, or designating a file drawer—the following list is a good place to start sorting.

The Essentials
This file should hold all the documents and information your heirs will need to access immediately after your death. Consider adding the following to this file:
•    Passwords for all your online accounts
•    A copy of last year’s tax return, including a copy of your Social Insurance Number
•    Numbers and contracts for bank and investment accounts
•    Contact information for the funeral home if you pre-arranged any details
•    Funeral Plan documents such as your wishes for your remains, floral preferences, preferred charities for donations, people you’d like to be notified of your death and any other details that are important to you (such as wardrobe, speakers, music and prayers)
•    Contact information for your lawyer

Personal Medical History
Your personal medical history should include a list of all the doctors you have seen within the last five years. Contact information for your family doctor, specialists, surgeons, and pharmacists will be helpful if any future appointments need to be cancelled or if you need access to any of the medical files. Medical documents may be crucial for insurance purposes or any other financial issues linked to your personal health. If you have them, be sure to include diagnostic reports, x-rays and sign-in information for health-related websites. Don’t forget to add other practitioners such as dentists, optometrists, chiropractors, physiotherapists and others. While your doctors have your medical records, your personal medical history should include a list of all ailments, medications and allergies. If you have any special requests or instructions for organ donation, be sure to include them here. Depending on where you live, official documents might be required before your organs can be harvested and donated. This can be valuable information for your descendants down the line.

Family Medical History
In addition to your own medical history, sharing the family history is also important. Leave a record of any family illnesses - cancer, heart conditions, mental health issues and allergies. If you have information about treatments and outcomes, you can include that as well.
Getting these basic documents ready is the first step in building a system of organization that can be readily accessed and will reduce clutter. 

Additional articles by Marion on related topics are linked below:

30 Documents Before You Die- Essentials

30 Documents Before You Die - Health Care

30 Documents Before You Die - Proof of Ownership

30 Documents Before You Die - Insurance

This Author's Services

Marion Goard, Broker, Keller Williams Edge Realty - Your Trusted Resource and Partner for later-in-life Moves

As a Lifestyle 55+ Master and Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES)® Marion's knowledge and expertise is beneficial for seniors' and their families when a later-in-life move is being considered. Knowing what questions to ask, what options may be suitable plus the legal, financial and emotional matters that come into play is key to helping seniors make their decisions by choice, simply not by circumstances! You can count on Marion to minimize stress and uncertainty while also providing top-notch real estate services. To view reviews of Marion's services visit Rate My Agent.

Contact Marion today to get started tailoring a plan that's right for you!