When my best friend, Ed*, began to have health problems, it wasn’t a huge leap for me to figure out that Ed’s affairs weren’t in order--and even worse, they were kind of in shambles.
It wasn’t that he was broke or behind on anything. It’s just that he was working hard as a high school teacher, living life, and a free spirit when it came to ‘things’. The one thing he wasn’t a free spirit about, like most of us born in the 20th century: paperwork. But, like Ed, most people don’t have a clear record of their fiscal responsibilities and assets in a safe place in case a disaster occurs.
Paperwork was Ed’s nemesis. He had no patience with the mail, which would stack up in piles on his kitchen table, next to his computer desk, in a box in the living room--and just about everywhere else.
It took about twenty minutes to create a fiscal record of his life. Then we bagged up all his old paperwork and put it in a safe storage ‘just in case’ he ever needed it. He never did.
The Recording Process:
name and birthdate
social security number
home address and telephone number
work address, boss, and employee number (if any)
Name of bank or item, account number, approximate balance or value
^^^Repeat for every account, or asset
(what the loan is for if applicable)
Name of company and account number
Address of company
Payment and balance owed
^^Repeat for every loan
This might be rent or an ongoing hospital payment
Name of institution, Account number,
^^Repeat for all payments
Name, what is insured,
Agent, phone number
Policy #, amount, frequency of payments
Company name, account #, monthly payment (or average)
^^Repeat for each utility
That’s all there was to it. He felt a huge relief. The net result was one sheet of paper. We printed a copy of it for him, one to be held by a trusted friend (me), and I sent one to his daughter back east. When Ed passed away, she didn’t have to wonder who to contact to disconnect his utilities, find his assets or pay off his debts, because it was all right there.
Three final things experts recommend doing:
Keep a copy with your will. (You have a will, right?)
Keep all your critically important papers (deeds, titles) together.
Take photographs of anything that you might need to record and print a copy to keep with the record.
If you have other critical information you deem worthy, such as medical information or something else, by all means, create a ‘Medical Record’ tool and have a page for that. The point is that your records should be simple to collect and carry in an emergency event, and available in the event of a catastrophe.
Ed touched a lot of lives with his kindness, his devotion to his beloved students, and with his great sense of humor. And now, we hope that Ed’s story touches your life by giving you the tools you need to create a fiscal record of your own. It should only take a few moments. (If it takes longer than that, feel free to ‘unlike’ this post.)
*Ed’s name was not changed. He would laugh and love to know his story helped someone else.