- Apology: I thought that I'd hit "Draft" and instead hit "Publish", so the beginnings of this entry were up for a few hours until I came back after a tasty Sunday dinner. Oops! My face is RED. Sorry!
- Freebie: Found this adorable little freebie on Becky's blog. Thought I'd share the link and my little project that took two minutes from discovering it to putting it on top of my china cabinet. Pretty cute, eh? I love simple and cute and especially free!
- Weekend update: A quiet Friday evening, watching/sleeping through Knight and Day. Saturday morning, we took the babes to see Tangled. Denise's son had won tickets on the radio to this movie and we ended up with them. Bonus! I adored the movie! A must buy for the family movie library. Too cute! I dejunked the file cabinet all afternoon. January dejunking is almost done!
Sunday, after a wonderful Ward Conference, we had Liza and Buddy and Zaylee over for dinner, games and Despicable Me. Zaylee keeps us all laughing hysterically. While playing Greedy, Liza would let Zaylee roll for her, pouring the dice out of the cup. Zaylee's eyes would get so big and she'd just squeal, like she'd just rolled some jackpot roll in Vegas. Too funny!
Now. More organizing.
Last week, after our "non-fire" incident, my thoughts were focused on what I would really do in case of an emergency. As I mentioned, I couldn't sleep that first night. I grabbed a few things that really mattered and put them in a pile that night, "just in case". We do have an emergency plan in order for our family. Everyone knows how they would get out in the event of a fire or emergency and we've practiced different routes, depending on the emergency. The babes know that we'd meet at the mailbox, that they are not to take time to grab anything other than each other. Doug's part in the plan is to call 911. My part is to grab a few predesignated things, if possible. One of those things, without discussion or thought, is "the Black Book", which is the binder that contains every document in our lives that really matters. Sorry to not show any pages in the notebook, but you'll understand why not... Read on...
A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with a friend who was looking for the title to her car. She looked for several days and finally decided that she would have to order a new one. She teased me, "I bet you could find yours in less than a minute in that book of yours." She was right. I teased her back, that she needed a book too!
So, today, I'm writing about the papers that matter most in your life. While I do have a permanent filing system, these papers are even more important than that. In the event of an emergency, you would never have time to go through files to find the important papers that would be a huge pain to replace. And unfortunately, in the event of an emergency, those are most likely the papers that you would need. Six weeks to get a new social security card is not what you need in an emergency. Keeping all of the important papers together in a designated place that could be grabbed on the run is the solution!
This notebook is would be a gift to the spouse of a person who suddenly passes away. A few years ago, a friend lost her spouse and part of their grieving process was the anger felt because she was clueless as to where anything important was. She had no idea which bank their savings was in. It took months to get on top of things before she could begin filing for the necessary documents and paperwork in such a situation. The black book, an "emergency insurance, could have save her time and money, not to mention stress and frustration. Being prepared for any emergency will be greatly appreciated, when push comes to shove.
You will need:
- a large 3 ring binder. Preferably, with 3" rings. (I also recommend one with pockets on the inside covers so that you can, at least, slip something into the pocket until you have time to file it in the binder, once you are used to using it.)
- a box of sheet protectors (heavy because you will take papers in and out of them on occasion)
- a few packages of tab dividers
- notebook paper (for writing extra information about some documentso)
This book would be best kept in a fireproof safe in your home. A fireproof safe can be purchased pretty inexpensively. (Liza bought one last year for about $50 at Sam's Club.) Another idea is to have copies made of everything in this book and store them in your safe deposit box at the bank. A good rule to follow is the keep the item at home unless it is anactual legal document or it is difficult to replace or duplicate. (Example,our adoption papers are sealed by the court and it would be expensive to open the file to replace them.) BUT. (And maybe I'm wrong here.) In my opinion, having the book at home is most convenient and effective.
Make sure that, not only your spouse, but another trusted person has access to and knowledge of the paperwork book in the event of your death or an emergency. (Actually, it's good to have a third party for another purpose... if something were to happen to Doug, I'm not sure that I'd be thinking all that clearly and the third person could be a "sound mind" to assist in crisis.)
Also, in discussing it, Doug and I decided that the book should not be labeled as such. It should be distinct to identify but should not be labeled "Doug and Sophia's most important documents" just to protect it from getting into the wrong hands.
Once you've gathered these few items, assemble the notebook and label the sections, as listed below or as needed for your circumstance. Carol and I took a class that taught us how to set up this binder several years ago. Doug and I refer to this book at least once or twice a week, surprisingly. Once it's organized, whenever you run across any of these documents in your home, whether it's this week while you're setting it up or you find it in the back of a novel you read fifteen years ago, stop and immediately put the document into the binder and never let it leave there again!
Now, here's suggestions for sections and what to put inside your binder:
- A personal directory ~ list each family member and friend who should be notified in the event of a death in your family. Full name, relationship, address, phone #, email address. This would come in handy in any emergency, where family needs to be contacted. Often, in such an emergency, a lot of things have to be delegated. (After Max's accident, there were many calls to make and in crisis, all of the names didn't instantly come to mind. A list like this would be perfect to just hand to a best friend, a sibling, adult child and they could to the contacting. (When I set up my binder, I also decided that while I was at it, I'd edit a copy of the contact list of family and most called phone numbers. I have one on each floor, in a sheet protector, magnetically attached to the refrigerator side and in my laundry room. These two lists are always easy to reach for even the babes and used frequently.)
- A professional directory ~ list your employers and spouses employers, as well as the human resource person, and any professional who may be involved with your affairs, such as: doctors, dentist, Bishop/clergy, insurance agent, banker, funeral planners, auto repairmen, computer repair, businesses that you frequently call...
- Financial information ~ List both, your account numbers and a contact phone number and person, if known for your Banks, Retirement accounts, CDs, Safe Deposit (list where the key is), location of wills and trusts, any loans or credit card accounts, any real estate owned, other investments. Also, you might list where the paperwork for these items are. This is also a great place to keep a copy of your current credit score.
- Personal property ~ Walk through your home with pen and paper, video camera or camera and take an inventory of every object in your home. Take photos of every room from every angle. Open cabinets and drawers. Photograph the contents of your closets, cabinets, pantries where dishes are stored. Don't forget the basement, attic and garage. Photograph outside contents too, including storage sheds, patio furniture, trampolines, swingsets. Take extra care to photograph valuable collectibles, jewelry or antiques. SAVE THESE PHOTOS ON A DISC IN YOUR BLACK BOOK AND A COPY IN YOUR SAFE DEPOSIT BOX OR A FRIENDS' HOME. (Talk a friend into doing the same and be eachother's keeper.) It's also a wise idea, if you do have collectibles of any sort, to make a list of exactly which items you have and any specifics that would be needed to replace them.
- Budget ~ Make a listing of your monthly budget. What bills get paid when, which accounts they are paid from, any auto-drafts. Create a list of monthly expenses/payments. Our irrigation water share must be paid every December. Auto registrations are in May and August... Having a list like this would be beneficial to anyone who had to step in for whatever reason. Just because you have an emergency, the bills don't stop coming.
- Loan papers ~ Store any loan papers, in case you want to pay them off early. You'll have the information needed and know the original agreement without question.
- Tax information ~ W-2 forms, property tax statements, anything needed when it's tax time.
- Rental/Lease agreements ~ storage sheds, rental property of any type, that your own to rent or rent for yourself.
- Insurance policies ~ Keeping a complete list of insurance policies for easy access here is the perfect place, especially if were to have to someone step in and assist. Photo copy your policies for here and store the actual policies in your safe deposit box. Also, this would be the place to store the business card or info of your insurance agents.
- Social Security cards and benefit statements ~ Store your social security cards and benefit statements here for easy access. You can toss the old ones when you receive the current one.
- Pension, Benefits, IRA, 401K, Retirement Statements ~ These statements would be critical ti collect benefits upon the death of a spouse. It's also helpful to have when you need to estimate benefits in advance.
- Birth, Marriage and Death certificates ~ never search for a birth certificate again because they are all together right here!
- Immunization and health Records ~ Next time you need them for school, scout camp, sports, it will take two seconds to open the book and pull up a copy. By the way, things like this are great to have several copies of, so that you can just pull it out and send it to the school or wherever. NOTE: THE MOST important step in maintaining this system is ALWAYS put whatever gets pulled out of the book back into IMMEDIATELY!
- Pet Records
- Blessing Certificates and church documents
- Titles for cars, trailers and vehicles
- A list of where things are: safe deposit box keys, Divorce papers, Warranties...
Fit the book to suit your lifestyle and needs. For us, as far as organizing papers of importance, this is the best system I've found to date. Even if you do nothing but type up a contact list, do something in this direction today. You won't regret it!
To be prepared is half the victory.