Stuff happens. Our nephew and his wife had their apartment in Washington, Illinois completely wiped out in November. With the exception of the clothes on their backs and one cell phone, they lost everything, including social security cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates and much more. Yes, ultimately, they were able reclaim their identities. But, if they had secured their records in a secure, safe spot, the process would have been much easier and less stressful. We’ve had other clients who were victims of floods and other disasters as well, which destroyed their records.
In addition, sometimes the issue is not natural disasters, but rather lack of attention to getting things in order. We have new prospects who come to us after a death in the family looking for help. They are dealing not only with the grief of losing a loved one, but also the fact that the records they need for the estate are in horrible shape or non-existent. They first need help in collecting the information for the estate. Then, they need help managing the information and the assets.
We suggest now is a great time to get all your important information in order. And, then, to scan it into the cloud as a backup for your “hard copy.” Think of it, electronic copies of all of your important documents and contacts in one safe, secure place.
Here are some of the documents that should be included:
· Estate planning documents including trusts, wills, powers of attorney, etc.
· Business papers covering partnership agreements, corporation papers, and employment agreements
· Tax records including returns and supporting data
· Banking records
· Real estate records including deeds, title insurance, notes, and rental property records
· Insurance policies
· Titles to autos, trucks, boats, planes
· Personal papers including birth certificates, social security cards, marriage certificate, military papers, citizenship papers, divorce judgments, etc.
· List of key advisors’ contact information including financial adviser, CPA, attorney, clergy, doctors, insurance agents, employer, landlord/real estate salesperson, successor trustees, etc.
· List of relatives and close friends to be contacted in case of an emergency or death
The above list may seem daunting. But, trust me (as someone who actually did this process a few months ago), it really isn’t. You probably have most of the information (somewhere). And, the pieces you don’t have, you can get. Once you have everything assembled, you need to scan in everything and then put the electronic copies in a safe place-presumably in the cloud. DWM clients often give us their originals for a few days, and we upload everything for them.
Our DWM/Orion client portal includes a safe, secure document vault. The Orion “cloud” can be accessed by us or our clients, 24/7, from anywhere in the world. Because the Orion cloud is a small, privately owned enterprise, we like the fact that our client information is stored here and not a mega-cloud like Dropbox, Sharefile or Amazon.
With winter still outside for most of the U.S., now is a great time to get your important documents assembled, scanned and stored electronically in a safe place. Here is a checklist of documents and contacts. Let us know if we can help.