Start small and do easy things first if that’s more palatable. In succeeding years, you can expand your system. As you will see below, I recommend making paper copies, notes, and descriptions. Even though you might keep many digitized records, paper is a tangible format that provides a physical starting point or key to your map. Please consider how you will safeguard this confidential information whether it is hidden/disguised in your home or stored off-site with your contact person.
QUICK AND EASY FIRST STEPS: PAPER BASED
- Simply write down an overview of your filing system, i.e., the top drawer of the beige file cabinet has all the household files.
- Make copies of cards in your wallet/purse.
- Make copies of your passport and SS card.
- List companies and account numbers for banks, financial institutions, utilities, and insurance policies.
- Describe where your passwords are kept: physical or electronic.
- Make a list of your professional contacts (name, number and address): legal, financial, medical, household, and vehicle.
- List contents and location of a safe deposit box; assign an authorized signatory.
NEXT STEPS: ELECTRONIC
- Describe accessibility for computer, email and online sites. (Many online sites prohibit anyone but you from using your passwords for access – something to think about and research.)
- Include the pass code for your cell phone or answering machine.
- Describe access to a password list if electronic.
FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD: PLANNING DOCUMENTS
- Make a will. Name an executor. Specify who can access your electronic information.
- Consider establishing a trust and funding it.
- Identify beneficiaries for assets.
- Set up advance directives for healthcare and/or a living will.
COMMUNICATE & MAINTAIN
- Designate an emergency contact person and get approval from them; can be a trusted friend or relative.
- Convey verbal and written instructions.
- Update information annually.
- Use a specialty book or binder or notebook to contain your road map.
Your emergency contact person, should they be pressed into service, will appreciate having quick access to the above information. You, too, will benefit by having key information at your fingertips: list of bank cards, accounts and contact information! Get started today even if it’s in a small way.