April 2020: Organizing your Personal & Financial Information
We are now a few weeks into the quarantine process due to COVID-19 and this virus may be causing you to reconsider some of aspects in your life. One thing you may consider prioritizing would be to organize your personal and financial information. To help with this project, we thought it may be helpful to provide you with a list of items related to your financial life that you should consider listing, reviewing, and editing. This newsletter will be similar to the newsletter we wrote in December, Organizing your Financial Affairs. Ideally, these lists should not only provide organization to your life, but they should also provide a road map of your life to your loved ones in the event something happens to you, in addition, serving as a basis for future updates. Step 1: Organization & Record Retention
How do you organize the important information in your life, such as your medical, financial or estate items? There is key information that should be listed and organized. This information should be organized for general life reasons, along with for emergency situations, such as evacuations, or if something happens to you. Therefore, consider using each of our templates below to organize the different important aspects of your life:
Personal Balance Sheet- Use this sheet to list the major items you own and who you owe. Not only is this sheet a good way to provide you a snapshot of your current financial situation, but it is also a great tool to track your financial progression towards your financial goals over the years.
Cash Flow Statement- This sheet should be used to list all your major sources of income and expenses. Thus, it will provide you great insight as to what you are currently making, spending, and saving each month.
Login Information Spreadsheet- This spreadsheet should be used to list all of your respective accounts, their usernames, and passwords. Make sure to keep your password information in a safe place.
General Information Excel Book– This excel file should be used to list and organize all of the other important information in your life. In the event of an emergency situation or if something happens to you, a person of trust should be able to use this file to understand the important details in your life, not to mention the trusted contacts for these items.
What is your method for maintaining a copy of your important documents (i.e. birth certificates, social security cards, insurance documents, etc.)? Consider using both of the methods listed below to store these documents: First, a safety fireproof filing box where all the hard documents can be safely stored, organized, and easily accessible. Second, you should make electronic copies of these documents and store them on either your computer, external hard drive, and/or a cloud service. This would provide for an easier and more durable way to retain these important documents and access them.
Step 2: Items to List, Review, & Update In our previous newsletter, Organizing your Financial Affairs, we covered preparing your personal cash flow statements, balance sheets, and the items that should be included. Listed below are additional items that should be included on your General Information sheet. In addition, you should consider updating the items listed below along with the items you listed in your personal balance sheet, cash flow statement, and login information sheet.
Estate documents include items like your Will, Power of Attorney (POA), Advanced Medical Directives and any additional items that pertain to how you wish you or your assets are to be handled in the event something happens to you. Consider listing the important parties for each document included and the lawyer that should be contacted for these documents if there any questions. The details for POA should not only include the people that have POA for you, but also the people you have POA for.
Review: Take this time to review items such as your beneficiaries; Are they still accurate and do they reflect your current wishes? Are the people that hold POA and Medical Directive over you still the best individuals for that position?
Insurance coverages that should be listed and reviewed include life, health, disability, homeowners, auto, etc. With each of your policies listed, consider listing the coverage basics, policy numbers, the insurance provider, agent, and contact information.
Review: When listing your different insurance plans and policies, consider reviewing your different coverages, benefits, and the perspective alternatives to these coverages. In addition, specifically for life insurance, you should review the different beneficiaries on the policies and ensure they still reflect your intended wishes.
Listing the balances of your respective bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, mortgage loans, car loans, credit cards and etc. on your personal balance sheet would be a good starting point, if you haven't already done so. In addition to the balances, you should also list where these respective accounts and loans are located, including contact information you may have for each of them. This contact information should include financial professionals such as an investment advisor, a mortgage broker, or a bank officer.
Review: Besides listing the additional information of these items, consider reviewing the different important details of these accounts. Items such as the beneficiaries listed, account performances, interest rates, terms, etc. Consider using this time to strategize how you should be contributing to some of these accounts, paying them off, or even moving them to a different institution. This may also be a good time to update your personal financial statements with the updated balances for these accounts.
Trusted Professionals & Contact Information:
Besides listing the point of contact for each of the items above, you should consider listing other important professionals in your life, whether that may be doctors, a CPA, a lawyer, or even therapist. In the event something occurs to you, the person handling your affairs should have a clear road map of the items they may need to handle, along with the contact information to handle your affairs.
Review: Consider reviewing the contact information of your trusted contacts and make sure you have their most current phone numbers, emails, and addresses.
Our world is going through very unique circumstances right now, but has provided us more focus in thinking about some the important aspects of our lives. When our lives do return to normal, they will probably do so at the busy pace we have come to expect. So, consider using this time positively and review these different parts of your life. More importantly, we at Crescent Sterling hope that you and your families are staying healthy and safe. These are trying time we are going through, so if there is anything we can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact us.