Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won't Have To

Overview

Everyone has important paperwork and personal information -- but it's not always easy to find. Whether you need to organize records for yourself, your family or your executor, Get It Together will show you how to keep track .

This workbook provides a complete system for structuring and organizing a records binder. If you'd like to work on your computer, use the CD-ROM -- then simply print your work and put it in a binder.

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Overview

Everyone has important paperwork and personal information -- but it's not always easy to find. Whether you need to organize records for yourself, your family or your executor, Get It Together will show you how to keep track .

This workbook provides a complete system for structuring and organizing a records binder. If you'd like to work on your computer, use the CD-ROM -- then simply print your work and put it in a binder.

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Editorial Reviews

About.com
Get It Together is a must-have book/planner for every adult!
Portland Observer
A book that is essential for everyone.... Tells you exactly what information you must record, who to tell, where to keep it and how often to update it.
Sacramento Bee
Offers a detailed, step-by-step process for gathering records and key documents and organizing them for future use.
Reference & Research Book News
Provides a guide to collecting and organizing important records, and how to store and protect them, for readers and their family members.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781413305630
  • Publisher: NOLO
  • Publication date: 4/5/2007
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Shae Irving started at Nolo in 1994 as an author and editor specializing in estate planning and family law issues. She has helped create both books and software, including Prenuptial Agreements: How to Write a Fair and Lasting Contract, Living Wills and Powers of Attorney for California, and the bestselling Quicken WillMaker Plus estate planning software. Irving graduated from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley and briefly practiced law at a large San Francisco firm before joining Nolo's editorial staff.

Melanie Cullen holds an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. Following 20 years in corporate management, she is a consultant in management and technology. An avid planner and a blue-chip organizer, she lives in Davis, California, near to loved ones who appreciate that her affairs are truly in order.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.
-- Danny Kaye, entertainer and UNICEF ambassador (1913-1987)

This book will help you get organized for your own benefit and, eventually, for the benefit of your loved ones. You'll use it to complete a planner that contains everything your caretakers or survivors need to know, including critical personal, legal, and financial information.

Your planner will be a thorough and easy-to-follow guide for your family and close friends. With your planner in hand, your loved ones can more easily step in and take care of things if you become incapacitated or when you die.
Who Needs to Plan Ahead?

If you picked up this book, you're probably feeling the need to get organized. Or perhaps you want to help someone else put things in order -- maybe an elderly parent or an ailing friend. Any adult can benefit from making a planner, even those without a lot of money or property, but some people might find the process particularly useful.
Seniors

As we age, most of us feel some concern about what would happen if we became ill and unable to make our own medical or financial decisions. And we wonder how our loved ones will take care of things after we die. If you're elderly, making a planner can smooth the way for your caretakers and survivors. You can gather together your health care wishes, financial plans, legal documents, and important personal information, and arrange these things in a format that will make sense to others. Those close to you will likely view your planner as a small miracle -- and a wonderful gift.
People Facing a Serious Illness

If you areill and concerned that at some point you may no longer be able to care for yourself, making a planner can help you find some peace of mind. While you're able, you can document your wishes for medical care, name someone to take care of your finances, write down what you want to have happen to your property and your body after death, and organize personal information and important paperwork for your family and friends. This book is designed to help you organize things a little bit at a time, with help if necessary; you can pick and choose the issues that are most important to you.
Family Members and Other Caretakers

If you are caring for an older or ailing person -- such as a parent, grandparent, or friend -- you're probably grappling with both strong emotions and lots of practical tasks. You may find it useful to help your family member or friend complete a planner. It will probably be a great relief to have personal wishes, financial information, and important legal paperwork at your fingertips.

If you have been named as an agent for health care or financial matters, executor of a will, or successor trustee of a living trust, a good planner will provide the framework that you need to carry out your eventual responsibilities in an orderly, informed way.

If you're using this book to help someone else make a planner, keep in mind that the instructions are written primarily for people who are making planners for themselves -- but there's no reason you can't use the instructions to help another person through the process.
Parents and Young Adults

If you are young, you may want to use this book to get off to a good start -- getting and staying organized. This book will show you how to understand and keep track of your important records, providing a solid foundation for years to come.

If you have young children, this book can help you ensure that they are provided for if something happens to you. It can alert you to the important documents you need and show you how to organize important information so your wishes for your children will be carried out if the need arises.
People Planning Travel or Deployment

When we're leaving town -- especially if we're leaving family for an extended period -- many of us think about what might happen if we were injured, or worse, while away from home. This book can help you get organized so that, when you leave, you will know that your affairs and records are in order and will be easily available to those who may need to step in.
How It Works

Similar to income tax or school exam materials, this book contains both instructions and companion forms. These two parts of the book are the guide and the planner:

* The guide. The first part of the book is your instruction manual. Each chapter describes a topic and shows you how to pull together the information and documents you will need.
* The planner. The second part of the book contains the forms where you'll actually record your information. If you prefer to use a computer, the book includes a CD-ROM with all the forms you'll need to create your planner.

To make your work easier, the guide and planner follow the same chapter sequence. For example, the first chapter in the guide helps you write a letter to your survivors, and that letter is also the first section of the planner.

The sequence of your planner is designed to create an easy, ready reference for your survivors. The planner begins with the materials that your loved ones will need immediately if you become incapacitated or die, and progresses to information they will need over time. But don't think you have to tackle the most daunting tasks right away. Rather than completing your planner from front to back, you can skip ahead and complete some of the simplest sections first. (You'll learn more about this in the next chapter, which contains specific suggestions and tips for completing your planner.)

You may want to take a moment now to page through the entire book, familiarizing yourself with the layout and the various topics.
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Table of Contents

About This Book

A. Who Needs to Plan Ahead?
B. How It Works
C. The Perils of Incomplete Planning

Completing Your Planner
A. What the Planner Contains
B. Seven Steps to Preparing Your Planner
C. After You Finish Your Planner

1. Letter to Loved Ones
A. Tips for Writing Your Letter
B. Where to Get Help
C. In Your Planner
D. Keeping Your Letter Up to Date

2. Instructions
A. In Your Planner
B. Keeping Your Documents Up to Date

3. Biographical Information
A. Where to Get Help
B. In Your Planner
C. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

4. Children
A. Arranging Care for Children
B. Where to Get Help
C. In Your Planner
D. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

5. Others Who Depend on Me
A. In Your Planner
B. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

6. Pets and Livestock
A. Arranging Care for Pets
B. Where to Get Help
C. In Your Planner
D. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

7. Employment
A. In Your Planner
B. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

8. Business Interests
A. Estate Planning for Small Business Owners
B. Where to Get Help
C. In Your Planner
D. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

9. Memberships
A. Types of Memberships
B. Membership Benefits for Survivors
C. Transferring Frequent Flyer Miles
D. Where to Get Help
E. In Your Planner
F. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

10. Service Providers
A. In Your Planner
B. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

11. Health Care Directives
A. Types of Health Care Directives
B. How Health Care Directives Work
C. Choosing Your Health Care Agent
D. WhatYou Can Cover in Your Health Care Directives
E. Duty of Medical Personnel to Honor Your Health Care Directives
F. Where to Get Help
G. In Your Planner
H. Keeping Your Documents Up to Date

12. Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
A. How Durable Powers of Attorney for Finances Work
B. Choosing Your Agent
C. Where to Get Help
D. In Your Planner
E. Keeping Your Documents Up to Date

13. Organ or Body Donation
A. Do You Want to Be a Donor?
B. Where to Get Help
C. In Your Planner
D. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

14. Burial or Cremation
A. Burial or Cremation?
B. Related Decisions
C. Where to Get Help
D. In Your Planner
E. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

15. Funeral and Memorial Services
A. Types of Memorial Services
B. Where to Get Help
C. In Your Planner
D. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

16. Obituary
A. What to Include in Your Obituary
B. Where to Get Help
C. In Your Planner
D. Keeping Your Obituary Up to Date

17. Will and Trust
A. Which Estate Planning Documents Do You Need?
B. An Overview of Wills and Trusts
C. Choosing Your Executor or Successor Trustee
D. Avoiding Probate
E. Where to Get Help
F. In Your Planner
G. Keeping Your Documents Up to Date

18. Insurance
A. What Kind of Insurance Do You Need?
B. Where to Get Help
C. In Your Planner
D. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

19. Bank and Brokerage Accounts
A. Making Your Accounts Accessible
B. Avoiding Probate for Bank and Brokerage Accounts
C. Where to Get Help
D. In Your Planner
E. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

20. Retirement Plans and Pensions
A. Planning for Your Retirement
B. What Happens to Retirement Accounts When You Die?
C. Where to Get Help
D. In Your Planner
E. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

21. Government Benefits
A. About Social Security
B. Where to Get Help
C. In Your Planner
D. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

22. Credit Cards and Debts
A. Evaluating and Reducing Debt
B. Where to Get Help
C. In Your Planner
D. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

23. Secured Places and Passwords
A. Who Has Access to Your Safe Deposit Box?
B. In Your Planner
C. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

24. Taxes
A. Tax Basics
B. Estate and Inheritance Taxes
C. Where to Get Help
D. In Your Planner
E. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

25. Real Estate
A. Ways to Own Property
B. Special Rules for Married Couples
C. Where to Get Help
D. In Your Planner
E. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

26. Vehicles
A. Leaving Your Vehicles to Others
B. Where to Get Help
C. In Your Planner
D. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

27. Other Income and Personal Property
A. In Your Planner
B. Keeping Your Information Up to Date

Index
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