courtesy of Five Wishes
Have you already pledged that this is the year you finally get organized? If so, you’re like many of us who have vowed to make the start of the new year the time to get everything together in one place.
Health and financial records are important components of getting organized. It’s easy to put off, thinking you’ll always have time, but someone else may need access to documents if you can’t speak for yourself. And, even if you remain healthy all year, you’ll be thankful to have this piece of your life organized, and your health and financial records will be handy when you need them.
1. Living Will
A living will, or advance directive, informs your loved ones and healthcare providers about your wishes in case of serious illness or accident. Five Wishes has a workbook that turns into a legal document once you complete it. It has been called the living will with heart and soul because it addresses your emotional and spiritual wishes, not just medical or financial needs. You’ll be able to select a healthcare agent that can speak for you as well as answer a series of questions in an easy-to-read format. Both hard copies and digital copies can be purchased starting at just $5 per workbook.
2. Will, Estate Plan and/or Legacy Plan
How do you want your material items to be distributed after your death? Aside from your home and vehicles, what about furniture, jewelry, and other treasured items? If you’re downsizing and want to lighten your load, consider giving away items now so your loved ones can enjoy them early. It is typical for a spouse to inherit everything once one spouse dies, but you could also have some special items distributed upon your death, so your daughter doesn’t have to wait for Aunt Mary’s treasured ring.
3. Tax & Retirement
You have an extra weekend in 2023 to file taxes – the new date is Tuesday, April 18, but wouldn’t it feel great to get everything out of that shoebox and have it ready to file early? Your employer should send you a W-2 or 1099 by the end of January, but in the meantime, start pulling together your charitable donations, your property tax statement, other sources of income, and any dependent information. If your company has a 401(k), are you taking advantage of your employee matching? Once vested, it’s free money, so you don’t miss out on that opportunity.
4. Financial Accounts
Keeping your bank and credit union statements handy makes life easy. You’ll also want to make any credit card, debit card, retirement, and investment accounts easily accessible. Do you have any alimony child support, student loan, or other creditors or debts to note? Having all this information in one spot will help if you ever experience credit card fraud, or when you’re ready to file your taxes.
5. Important Documents
Can you locate your birth certificate or social security card in less than five minutes? Other items you’ll want to keep forever (and easily accessible) include adoption, death, marriage and divorce decrees, military service and discharge records, and your passport. Other documents should be easily accessible, too, like your house deed, mortgage information, property records, car deed or rental information, automobile insurance, and your life insurance policy.
Getting organized is no easy feat, so don’t let this list overwhelm you. Break it down into manageable steps and start with tasks you think you can easily complete so it will give you some motivation to keep going. There are a lot of pieces to pull together, but the work is mostly in the setup. You’ll thank yourself come tax time, and if you’re faced with any kind of health crisis in 2023, the hard process of deciding what kind of medical treatment you want, or don’t want, will already be documented. You and your family will have peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be met without the family stress of trying to guess what kind of treatment you would want. For more information about an advance care directive, visit the Five Wishes website, or call 850-681-2020.