The following article originally appeared in the January 2014 edition of The Myers Report newsletter published by the firm.
How a File Folder Can Change Your Life
By Jane M. Myers, Esq.
It’s the New Year. I call it The Season of Our Best Intentions.
We get to start fresh with the hope and promise of a great 2014. Becoming our “personal best” is within easy reach if only we’d . . . Eat kale! Set goals! Join a gym! Think positively! Stand up at our desks! Clean out the garage! Devote 10,000 hours to perfecting . . . anything! Juice everything!
Like the lifespan of a gnat, The Season of Our Best Intentions only lasts a few weeks.
Why? Because all those great ideas require long-term commitment until you finally see results. They’re intimidating, exhausting to carry out and the likelihood of success is low for most of us.
But don’t despair.
In this issue, you’ll get a very simple strategy that will position you for success in 2014 and beyond – with minimal time commitment or effort. We promise you won’t have to break a sweat or forgo even one Twinkie.
Simplify your world, relieve stress and change your life: get your personal, business and legal worlds organized. Simply put, it’s important to know what you own and where it’s located. Jim and I recommend that everyone take a little time to create a physical folder that contains information about your assets, print the information on paper and keep it in a file folder. When you know what information you should be looking for, it’s easy to assemble. Once you’ve assembled it you’ll feel tremendous relief.
Most, if not all, of the information you’ll need is probably already in your house or office or it will arrive periodically in the mail. Other items are easily retrievable from local municipal offices.
Once the information is gathered, you should update it annually. Keep the information in a safe place and make sure someone you trust knows where it is. This is the key to making sure your personal, business and legal worlds can be managed in the event you’re not able to do so.
Here’s your checklist:
Make a list of:
• All bank accounts
• Automatic pay accounts (with the name and contact information of each payee) and user names and passwords for all other accounts
• Life insurance policies (insurance company name and address, policy number, owner and beneficiaries)
• Long term care insurance policies (insurance company name and address, policy number)
• Safe deposit boxes (location of each and where keys are located)
• 401(K) accounts, Roth IRAs and other retirement accounts (account numbers and where maintained)
• Pension documents
• Brokerage account information (name of brokerage firm, contact person, phone number and email address)
• Saving bonds (including notation on where located and a copy of each bond)
• Combination for an at-home safe
• Deeds for your home(s), land and cemetery plots
• Marriage license, divorce documents, military discharge records
• Title documents for cars, boats and other vehicles
• Mortgage documents and other loan records demonstrating loans made to you and loans you’ve made to others
• Shareholder agreements, partnership agreements and other records demonstrating business ownership
• Power of attorney, last will and testament, health care proxy, letter of instruction, trust instruments
Make a list of:
• Name, address and other contact information for your attorney and accountant
• Addresses and social security numbers for all people named in your will, trust documents, and life insurance beneficiary designation forms
Once you’re organized, it will be easier to make informed decisions about your assets – whether to keep them, sell them, acquire more, transfer ownership or gift them to family members or charities. The possibilities for 2014 and beyond will become infinitely clearer and easier with organization.
Gym clothes optional.
Approximately once a month we publish The Myers Report, an e-mail newsletter containing articles similar to this one that we believe will be of interest to our clients, colleagues and friends. If you’d like to receive The Myers Report then please click here to add your e-mail address to our mailing list.
Please note that this article is intended only as a general discussion and that it should not be taken as creating an attorney-client relationship or as legal advice with respect to any particular person, business or situation. Circumstances and the applicable legal principles vary and you should consult with an attorney regarding any questions you may have regarding your specific situation.