May 6, 2011

Tip of the day—Keep important papers together

Lately I’ve been helping some people file for VA Aid and Attendance, and I’ve become very aware of how important it is to keep papers in one place.  Some things I’ve learned that I hope will help you and your family:

  • There are some papers you want to keep the original of forever.  Discharge paperwork from the armed forces, along with birth, marriage, and death certificates are others.  Make photocopies of those papers and place them in a separate location, but the originals are often the most important pieces to have available.
  • If possible, get copies of papers from your parents. I know it isn’t pleasant to think about, but there will be a time that you will help with end of life issues and burial planning.  Having copies of their power of attorney, living will, last will and testament, and information like Social Security numbers will help make that process go a little smoother. 
  • Many people suggest starting a drawer or file that your family can easily find with all important paperwork—insurance, life insurance, investments, etc.  If something were to happen to you, this would help them start the process of dealing with your papers and estate.
  • Talk to an estate or elder law attorney about creating a will, living will, and power of attorney if you haven’t already.  Usually those professionals will also keep that paperwork so that family members can turn to them for help. 
  • Don’t trust just anyone with your paperwork.  Identity theft is rampant these days, and it is important that you keep your information protected.  If you prefer to store items in a safety deposit box or safe of some sort, do so.  Don’t give your passwords out to others.

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