Paperwork is a thorn in the side of most of my friends and clients. It is a can be difficult to control and organize because of the mere volume we receive, we are constantly indited with mailers, statements, documents, etc…
One of my clients was struggling with her divorce documents, she had them piled into boxes and bags in her closet so I brought them home to organize into binders. Because of my background in insurance claims and law I am well versed in what documents my clients should hang on to and those they can let go of. It is so important to have all of your critical documents in a safe place in case of an emergency (fire, theft, natural disaster, etc.), here is what is considered an important document:
- Insurance policies and contact information
- Bank accounts and contact information
- Debt obligations, due dates, and contact information
- Your family’s passports or visas
- List of doctors and contact information
- List of medications, prescription numbers, and contact information of all pharmacies that you use
- Copy of durable power of attorney, living wills, and health care proxies – Yours and all those of which you are attorney-in-fact or health care surrogate
- Copy of each of your wills and all those of which you are the executor
- Safety deposit box keys
- Investment, retirement, and bank accounts, with all contact information
- Your original Social Security card and birth certificate
I recommend having a copy of marriage/divorce/birth/social documents in a safety deposit box and with an emergency contact.
I brought my client’s documents home with me to sort and put into binders. I started the project by creating piles on my living room floor for each category (child support, home inventory, taxes, custody, etc..) Then I decided which categories made sense to be in the same binder. Then I 3-hole punched everything and filed them into binders with labeled tabs and an index on the front cover.
Here is a photo of the documents that I unloaded from the boxes and bags before I sorted them…
- Don’t buy any binders or products until you know how much paperwork you need to file.
- Collect all of you paperwork into a central location and sort it into categories.
- While you are sorting have a bag for trash, recycling, and shredding in your workspace.
- Decide uninterrupted time to focus on your project, weather it is 30 minutes or 3 hours-turn off your cell phone/TV and limit distractions!
- Less is more- if there are items that you know you don’t need to file but require action create an action pile and give yourself a deadline (14-30 days) to follow up.
- Keep up the good work! Try to schedule 5 minutes per day, 30 minutes per week, or 2 hours per month to keep up on your paperwork.
- If you are unsure what you need to keep check out this paperwork post.