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Blog: Minimizing Financial Clutter

Did the untimely death of Michael Jackson at shock you? It shocked me.  His music was a part of my youth.  And he was a few years younger than I am.  His death made me even more aware that life can change in an instant.  Did that wealthy man with 3 small children ever imagine that he would die at age 50?  Probably not.  Had he taken the time to plan for its possibility?  That remains to be seen.  For his family's sake, I hope so. 
But we can all learn a lesson from Michael Jackson's death.  TODAY is the day that we need to start putting the pieces in place so that our families will be protected when we die or become incapacitated.  If you do not have a will, power of attorney, and advance health care directives, please, please, please get them this week.  Do it for the people you love.
We have spent the last 2 weeks creating a document called "What My Family Needs to Know" (WMFNTK for short).  The result will be a 3-ring binder that contains all of the information your next-of-kin or personal representative will need to know when you are unable to personally tell him or her.  We have created the first 2 chapters:  My Personal Information and My Legal Information.  If you missed these steps, check out my blogs from June 14 and June 21.
This week we're going to really minimize your financial clutter!  In fact, we're going to shrink your financial information down to just a few pages a summary of everything financial about your life.  The result will be Chapter 3 of WMFNTK:  My Financial Information.
If you have been following my "52-Week" series, you will recognize many of the documents you'll need to list in your WMFNTK document.  And you will have already organized them and have created a file index to locate them, so this part should be not so time-consuming.
Your Homework for This Week
Copy and paste the lists below into a Word document.  Next to each item that applies to you, enter the information your executor will need to find the original documents quickly and contact the appropriate people.  If you have more than one account in a certain category (for example, if you have two checking accounts), then list each account separately.  Delete any items that do not apply to you. 
My Financial Information (What I Own and What I Owe)
Remember your Un-Balance Sheet?  Chapter 3 of WMFNTK begins with the information you already compiled for it.  Here it is again; next to each item, list the account number and location of the original documents.
Checking Account(s)
Savings Accounts(s)                                                       
Mutual Funds
401K/Retirement Plans                                
Life Insurance Policies
Credit Card(s)
Accounts Payable (outstanding bills)      
Mortgage(s) Payable
Home Equity Line(s)of Credit                                     
Bank Loan(s) Payable
But wait, there's more!  Copy and paste the following lists into the same Word document.  Next to each item, list the account number, where to locate the original document, names and contact information, and any other information that will help your personal representative take care of your financial matters quickly.
Alimony Receivable
Bonus(es) Receivable
Brokerage Statements
Business(es) Owned
Buy/Sell Agreements
Car Insurance
Cash Management Accounts
Cemetary Plot(s)
Child Care Receivable
Combinations to Locks
Deferred Compensation Receivable
Employer Benefits
Foreign Accounts
Foreign Income
Frequent Flyer Miles
Hidden Cash
Home Improvement Receipts
Home Inventory List/Photos/Video
Homeowner's Insurance
Items on Loan to Others
Keogh Plans
Limited Partnerships
Loan Payments Receivable
Location & Contents of Storage Unit(s)
Location of Keys
Mortgages Held
Notes Held
Other Insurance
Other Vehicle Insurance (boat, airplane, etc.)
Pension Plan(s)
Real Estate
Retirement Benefits
Safe Deposit Box(es) location of keys
SEP Plans
Social Security
Stock Certificates
Stock Options
Tax-Related Documents (Current Year)
Tax Returns (Prior Years)
Treasury Bills
Valuable Home Furnishings
Veteran's Benefits
Other Assets
Cable TV Bill
Church/Synagogue Obligations
Electric Bill
Gas Bill
Internet Service Bill
Laundry/Dry Cleaning Bill
Lawn Service Bill
Membership Dues
Pest Control Bill
Pledges Made
Satellite TV Bill
Snow Removal Service Bill
Telephone Bill cellular
Telephone Bill landline
Telephone Bill long distance
Other Liabilities

posted on: 6/28/2009 11:30:00 AM by Katherine Trezise
category: Finances

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Discuss This Post

by Kaye on 6/30/2009 8:41:00 AM:

Thank You, I was wondering where to start and you have made it so easy to understand.

by Kathy Trezise on 6/30/2009 9:45:37 AM:

Thanks Kaye. I'm glad it is helpful to you.

by Diana on 7/5/2009 8:08:30 PM:

I know when my Mother-in-law passed, we said we were going to do this. Then my Father passed away, so all of financial clutter is really helping me, but mostly my children in the sad event that anything should happen to us.

by flackman on 3/30/2010 7:05:37 PM:

You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view

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Minimizing Financial Clutter

by Katherine Trezise

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About Katherine:

Katherine Trezise is president of Absolutely Organized, based in Baltimore, MD. She is president-elect of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. Katherine holds a masters degree in business administration, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®. Absolutely Organized specializes in helping people organize their homes, paperwork and financial records to make room in their lives for the things, people and activities that are most important to them.

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