With tax season in full swing, you’re likely to be receiving or compiling important financial documents from multiple sources: your accountant, your financial institution(s), your investment firms, or your own business records. Now is the time to make sure all your insurance and financial documents are organized, safe, and accessible.
Although it is not pleasant to consider, your family or your firm may need access to these important documents, or online accounts, if your health or well-being were seriously affected. Being able to access online bank accounts and being able to quickly locate important insurance information in a time of crisis can help make an already-difficult situation just a little easier. Here are a few tips to get everything prepared in case you or your family needs to access them quickly.
There are simple paper folder organizers available, or you can choose to keep everything electronically. Either way, make sure everything is in order. Keep separate folders for different categories: insurance policies (life, disability, home, auto, and medical), mortgages or property deeds, medical records, financial portfolios (including bank account documentation), living wills and powers of attorney, and personal identification (Social Security cards, passports, marriage certificates, professional accreditations, and ABA membership card).
For paper storage, use traditional methods like accordion binders or hanging files in a fire-proof cabinet or bank safe-deposit box. For electronic storage, you can scan and store all your documents digitally. (ABE offers a secure life planner flash drive specifically for this purpose; request yours free here.) You can also use cloud storage services such as the free Dropbox or paid-services like Mozy (which offers ABA members a 15% discount).
Make sure your loved ones, partners, and beneficiaries know where your documents are and how to access them. Be sure you have documented online account IDs and passwords, along with action steps for accessing your information. You can create a shareable, password-protected Excel file (this Google document template or Erik Dewey’s free Big Book of Everything is a place to start) or save a paper copy of your passwords along with your documents in your storage place of choice.
For more financial tips, visit ABE’s financial planning strategies for lawyers education archive on the ABE blog. Or connect with ABE on Facebook, follow @abendowment on Twitter and join the ABE LinkedIn group.