If you don’t gather this information, it can take weeks if not months for someone else to make sense of your organizational system (or lack of a system).
Below are some specific strategies for gathering and keeping the information you need to make a thorough plan. If you don’t gather this information, it can take weeks if not months for someone else to make sense of your organizational system (or lack of a system). Some of this information you need to make a plan and some of this information you will have only after your plan is adopted. The point is to get organized enough to make a plan – and then keep the information in one place for future reference. If you keep these key pieces of information handy, there is a greater chance your plan will be followed.
Step 1 – Creating The Receptacle:
Get a file cabinet and folders, or an accordion-type folder that you can label. If you are more comfortable with computer folders and files, set this up on your personal computer. If you choose the digital route, keep the information secure but make sure to let someone know your usernames and passwords so that the information is accessible. There should be one file for your information and one file for your child’s.
Step 2 – Important Personal Information:
Create a document with all of your and your child’s personal information (name, nicknames, date and place of birth, phone numbers, Social Security number, Medicare number, addresses, etc.). You should also keep a separate folder with copies of birth certificates, military service records, deeds, insurance policies, stock certificates, spouse’s death certificate, marriage certificates, social security cards, automobile titles, divorce decrees, usernames, and passwords.
Step 3 – Emergency Contacts:
Create a document for emergency contacts for you and your child. Include contact information for your spouse, partner, significant other, children, siblings, and parents. If you have trusted service people who help with the home or lawn, these names and numbers should be included here. For your child you should have the name of the person you want to care for your child in case of an emergency.
Step 4 – Medical Providers And History:
Create a document for you and for your child with a list of medical providers and medical history. This list should include the names and numbers for primary care providers and specialists, medications, allergies, significant family history, insurance companies and policy numbers, your employer retiree coverage, health insurance, and any Medicaid or Medicare information. If you have prepaid your or your child’s funeral or burial, keep this information here as well. If your child is still in school, include information about his or her individual education plan and counselors at the school who work with your child.
Step 5 – Financial Information:
Create a chart for financial information. This includes the gross and net amount of each source of income (employment, social security, supplemental security income, etc.) and current value of each asset, the death benefit (if any), and all beneficiary designations associated with the asset. Include on the chart policy numbers and contact information, the name of any financial advisors you work with, a copy of your most recent tax statement, and a section on recurring bills, including whether the bill is paid on-line or by an automated payment. For your child, you should include all information concerning his or her representative payee accounts and special needs trust accounts. Copies of statements should be kept in the file cabinet or scanned in and stored on line.
Step 6 – Legal Information And Documents:
Collect any legal information you already have, such as the names and numbers for attorneys, health care agents, attorneys-in-fact, beneficiaries, trustees, and personal representatives. Make sure to also collect a copy of your will, health care directive, and power of attorney.
Step 7 – Accounts and Passwords:
If you use online banking or bill-pay, or have any other accounts (email, Facebook, photo storage, etc.), collect a list of usernames, passwords, and answers to security questions to these accounts. Keep these in a secure place and make sure someone you trust knows where to find them! Make sure you have log-in and password information for internet accounts and sites your child may be using.
Step 8 – Letter Of Intent:
As a parent of a child with disabilities, you will also need to create a letter of intent. An upcoming issue of The Voice will discuss in more detail the importance of a letter of intent.
If these organizational tasks seem daunting, tackle them one at a time, and enlist a friend, family member, or financial advisor to help. You want this information to be protected yet accessible. Consider keeping the folder in a locked safe or file cabinet, a safety deposit box, or in a password-protected space on your computer. Then, let the important people in your life know how to access this information.