Get Organized

During the first weeks and months after a loss, you are likely to have many issues to take care of. These tasks will be easier if you are already well organized; if not, you have some work ahead. You will begin almost immediately dealing with legal and financial issues and you will begin to accumulate forms, papers, letters and other correspondence, much of which you will need or need to refer to for the next year or more. Keeping everything organized can reduce your stress level, because you'll be able to find important information when you need it.

Use a file cabinet, file box, or accordion folder to help organize your documents. The way you organize your folders is really up to and will depend on your particular situation. If you keep your papers in piles on your desk, we encourage you to buy file folders and a magic marker to begin sorting and filing your important papers. You will also need to organize any electronic files that you receive. Make sure you backup your electronic documents as you would any other important electronic files. You can copy backup files to a hard drive or flash drive, or use a secure online service. 

While you are getting organized, you should search for and identify the following important documents; some of these documents may already reside in a safe-deposit box or fireproof safe in your home:

  • Social Security Numbers

  • Will

  • Trust

  • Marriage Certificate 

  • Birth Certificates (both spouses)

  • Living Will

  • Living Trust

  • Insurance Trust (ILIT)

  • Charitable Trust

  • Minor’s Trust

  • General Power of Attorney

  • Medical Power of Attorney

  • Medical Directive

  • Custodial Account

  • Donor Advised Fund or other charitable account(s)

  • Prenuptial Agreement

  • Postnuptial Agreement

  • Divorce Decree or Settlement

  • Citizenship Papers

  • Burial Agreement

  • Certificate of Military Discharge (DD Form 214) 

  • Tax Returns

  • Insurance Policies (auto, home, life, long-term care) 

  • Vehicle Titles and Registrations

  • Leased Vehicle Contract 

  • Brokerage/Investment Statement(s) (CDs, IRA, Roth IRA) 

  • Annuity Contracts and Statement(s) 

  • Earnings Statement(s) (if employed)

  • HSA (Healthcare Savings Account) Statement(s) 

  • Medical Insurance Statement(s) 

  • Bank or Credit Union Statements (checking, savings, lines of credit) 

  • Credit Card Statements

  • Loan Statements

  • Safe Deposit Box Inventory 

  • Savings Bonds 

  • Stock Certificates 

  • Airline Frequent Flyer Statements 

  • Real Estate Deeds, Mortgage Information

  • Divorce Decree

To help you create a filing system, the following paper entitled, "Get Organized: Creating a Filing System," is provided. To download, click this file:


If you would like our help getting organized, please complete the form below and a representative will reply to you soon. 

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