Estate Planning: Other Estate Planning Packages

Estate PlanningToday, we finish the fourth category within File Box 3. Woo hoo! With only one more category, we are coming to the end. You have patiently hung in there through this process of looking at each document type to evaluate if you need each of these documents.

Though I enjoy the document organization category, I realize that it is not the highlight of the week for most of you. For me, the more organized I am at home with the paperwork, the more freedom I tend to be with activities because I know all is covered at home.

When home life is in disarray, then I tend to stay home to work through the cleaning, laundry, paperwork, coupons, etc. As I emerge from piles and get on top of our home life, then we go to the park, entertain, and hang out with friends.

Knowing how I operate helps me know where to start and how to progress to a calm, organized home. It takes time, but I find investing in our home using time wisely.

In investing in organizing our important documents, I finished last week with most of our estate planning documents filed. The last items are other estate planning packages, housed with our research items in file opening 9 of our file box 3.

Other Estate Planning Packages

As an executor, beneficiary, and/or trustee of others’ estate planning packages, I needed a place to hold those documents. As they are all estate planning documents, I wanted to keep them separate from our information.

My solution was to place each package into a separate 9”x13” envelope with the family name written on the outside. I then keep these envelopes in this file. If we get notification that one of these friends or family members needs the information, then I can quickly locate all the documents at once.

That’s it! In getting the last items of our estate planning documents filed, this category is currently complete. Though I may still add more research information and need to adjust our checklist information, the bulk of this category is done.

If you are following along, then celebrate this accomplishment. You are doing so well getting all your important documents organized and filed. Keep working, and enjoy having another category complete. Happy organizing!

Question: How is your document organizing coming along? 

Estate Planning: Personal Research

Estate PlanningIf you have been reading here for any amount of time, then you know how much I like research – OK, thrive on research. 🙂

When I find something new that intrigues me, I can’t wait to research it.

My interest in research stems from wanting all the information to make the best decision possible.

From researching deals, cleaning methods, savings strategies, planning, and organization, I have learned so much from others and adapt those techniques to my own style.

Personal Research Topics

When I find something new, I tend to immediately turn to research. This was also the case when I delved into our estate planning options. I had no idea how to make decisions based on the checklists for funerals and burials.

Taking the items in the checklist, I began to research pricing of local funeral homes, contacting the establishments, and gathering brochures and websites should I need to make arrangements. My research topics include:

    • Funeral arrangements
    • Funeral homes
    • Cremations
    • Obituaries
    • Newspaper contact
    • Notes on the information I received
    • Brochures including contact, pricing, and location information

Personal Research File

Though I could do more research and probably need more up-to-date information, I keep the information I have gathered within the 9th file opening of file box 3. This fourth and last file opening housing our estate planning documents is organized by type.

In an effort to compare apples with apples, I chose the type of service wanted with the type of burial and then began comparing prices and personnel. I found one mortuary that was especially calm, gentle, and kind.

Though they were a bit more expensive in their pricing, I would definitely choose them over others due to the atmosphere they provide during a time of turmoil.

All these little details are noted within my research notes, so that I can make the best decision when the time comes.

Though you may not have any research to add to this section, don’t worry. This spot contains the bells and whistles. When you get to it, you will have a designated spot for any information and research you gather.

Next week, we will finish the estate planning category. We are also finished with this more-than-2-year-long journey to organize our important documents. Don’t give up now. Happy organizing!

Question: Do you ever sacrifice savings for better service? 

Estate Planning: Correspondence

Estate PlanningLove having all our documents in one filing system. Though my filing system consists of 3 accordion files rather than 1 container, I know where my documents are located.

If you are struggling to find a system that works for you, consider a filing cabinet, container, cardboard box, plastic tote, notebook(s), or any other system that has worked for you in the past.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, find a successful organizational system that works in your home and use that same basic system for your important documents. Getting those documents gathered and organized will save you money, energy, and time.

Estate Planning Review

In sharing my organizational system, I have covered all of file box 1 and all of file box 2. Working on file box 3, we have finished the Social Security, Retirement Plan, and Investment categories.

Concentrating now on the Estate Planning category, we have finished the first two file openings – sections 7 and 8 in my accordion file.

Section Opening #7

Section Opening #8

Section Opening #9

    • Correspondence

Estate Planning Correspondence

Working today on the contents of the third of four file slot openings housing our estate planning documents, I file our estate planning correspondence within this section.

As we prepared for our visit with our attorney, I gathered research, our beneficiary information, and policies. In addition to those documents, our attorney had us fill out a number of pages prior to our meeting to save us money, energy, and time.

All these documents, research, and invoices are kept within this file opening. If we need to make adjustments or change our estate planning documentation, we will have access to the information we used to create our first package.

In keeping our important documents organized and filed, I find the accordion filing system working for me. I like using the tabs for each category as I can quickly find the section I need. Since I only use a few tabs for each box, I can spread out our documents over multiple slots.

Filing our estate planning correspondence allows me to access our attorney’s contact information and go back to explanations of the items within our estate planning package should I have questions.

With three of the four file openings complete, I will begin addressing next week the last file opening that holds our estate planning documents. Keep making progress.

I know it is hard to block out time to organize these documents. Believe me, I understand. You won’t have time each week, but making time at least once a month is so beneficial to you and your family. Keep up the good work, and happy organizing!

Question: Which type of filing systems do you use with success in your home?

Estate Planning: Copies of Health Care Power of Attorney

Estate PlanningAt the end of each quarter, I tend to file more items in our important documents filing system. This is mostly due to quarterly statements, and I’m so thankful to have a designated home for these documents.

As I have time, I enjoy looking back through the years of paperwork to see from where we have come. It is encouraging to see the progress we have made.

Continuing in our organization of our important documents, we are in the homestretch working on our estate planning documents in file box 3. Last week, we completed the first of four openings housing our estate planning documents.

This week, we will complete the second file opening which is the 8th slot in my accordion filing system which holds copies of Health Care Power of Attorney documents.

Why Keep Copies of your Health Care Power of Attorney?

In dealing with our health care, our agents may need to discuss our care with numerous doctors, facilities, technicians, and insurance companies for prior approval or procedure information. Each of these entities will require a copy of our Health Care Power of Attorney.

Knowing that our agents may not have quick access to a copy machine and that time may be of the essence, I keep copies of both Paul’s and my Health Care Power of Attorney documents within this file slot for quick distribution, if needed.

How many Copies of your Health Care Power of Attorney Should One Keep?

The answer depends on your health care. All the doctors our family sees have a copy of our Health Care Power of Attorney within their patient records. Having covered all our chosen doctors, I keep an additional 5 copies of each of our Health Care Power of Attorney documents.

Having had a recent x-ray of my knee, I received 3 bills just from the hospital visit. Yes, one from the radiologist, X-ray pictures, and the facility. As each bill came from a different source, our agent might need to provide a copy of the Health Care Power of Attorney to each section of a hospital for treatment, not payment. Though 5 copies may not be enough, it is a good start until our agent can obtain more copies.

Our agents have also received 3 copies of our Health Care Power of Attorney as a matter of protection. Should they get called, they may use their copies and obtain extras from our important documents when they need them.

In using time wisely to save time later, I keep copies of our Health Care Power of Attorney documents for quick distribution to medical officials at our time of need. With a copy holding the same weight and authority as the original, I am careful to give this document ONLY to those who need it.

Though I don’t keep track of all the copies I have distributed, I know who has them. I really should start a list to know who has access to that information. See? I’m still working on creating my important document files, too. It is a work in constant progress. 😉

As you organize your important documents, make extra copies of your Health Care Power of Attorney or Living Will for your agent’s benefit. Keep on working, and happy organizing!

Question: Do you keep track of those to whom you distribute important documents?

Estate Planning: Summary Sheets

Estate PlanningAfter taking 10 minutes today to jot down the list of items bouncing around in my head and assigning those items to a time frame dedicated to focus on them, I’m so much more productive.

When I only have a few items to accomplish, then I can just remember. But as the list grows, I just need pen and paper to brain dump onto the page. For me, freedom ensues without worrying that I’m going to forget something.

In concentrating on our estate planning documents, jotting down the important information and keeping it in one place frees me for when we may need the information. To keep the contact information easily accessible, I have created summary sheets with detailed information in one place. Located behind our Estate Planning package documents, I place these summary sheets within file opening 7 of our file box 3.

Types of Summary Sheets

The goal of summary sheets is to go to one file opening and gain information needed should one or both of us pass away. The research is done and recorded to save time when the information is needed, and one might not be thinking straight.

Beneficiary Information

To keep our information uniform, we have selected the same beneficiaries for our financial information. Keeping a sheet with their full names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, phone numbers, and addresses will make contacting them easy.

Personal Information

This summary sheet includes our full names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, places of birth, mother’s maiden names, addresses, and phone numbers. This information will be asked should a death certificate get issued.

Life Insurance Information

A copy of the summary page from our life insurance policies are kept within this file opening.

Work Benefits Information

This summary sheet included contact information for Paul’s work, his employee number, and information regarding claims and benefits for long term disability, life insurance offered through employer, and health benefits.

Flexible Spending Account Information

The executor of our estate will need access to this account should any medical bills arise for our care. Keeping this information along with the location to find additional documentation is noted on this summary sheet.

Short-term Disability Information

In the event that we become incapacitated, then our health care agents may need access to short-term disability benefits before moving into the long-term disability claims. This information is kept on a summary sheet in this file.

Critical Illness and Cancer Policy Information

This policy has different ways to contact the company depending on the situation. The summary page records the different scenarios and the instructions. With the information available, this summary page will save time when access is needed, as one does not need to spend extra time trying to research while emotions are high.

Cord Blood Banking Information

This summary sheet informs our executor of these policies and responsibilities for our children.

Retirement Information

Beneficiary and contact information for each of our accounts is listed on this summary page.

Benefits of Summary Sheets

These summary pages are specific to our accounts. As I am the one who files and maintains these accounts, I want to make sure that information is easily accessible should I become unable to retrieve them. Keeping the same information in multiple places, where one might look for the information, allows me to rest easy knowing that the information will be found.

Making these summary pages takes time to research and call representatives, but the information is good to know now for planning. In my research, I discovered that one policy requires certified copies of our birth certificates as well as the death certificate for payment.

Filing our certified birth certificates with that policy will save time and energy should a claim get filed. If one does not have a certified birth certificate, then getting one takes some time.

This Summary Sheets step is simply a planning for the future step, and it completes the 7th file opening of file box 3. Together our Last Will and Testament, General Power of Attorney, and Health Care Power of Attorney comprise the first opening of our estate planning documents.

As you plan for the future, consider creating summary pages with the important information needed to contact the providers. These sheets help save time and energy. Happy organizing!