I was making lunch this morning, and went to fill the container with ice water, and I could not find the container. It was not where it has always been. I continued with my morning routine, and opened another cabinet to get a bowl for my cereal and there were the ice water containers! My wife had re-organized the cabinets, though just slightly.
This got me thinking about all of the papers that we accumulate over the years – bank statements, insurance policies, deeds to properties – and wondered if anyone could find them if they needed to. I need to make sure we are organized.
But organization is not really enough. My ice water container conundrum was an issue I had in my own house – and I know where most things are. Think about when you are in someone else’s house, and they asked you to grab a glass. You end up opening 3 or 4 cabinets before finding the right one. Your organization differs from theirs (you opened the cabinets you logical thought would hold the glassware).
So step one in your organization is to consolidate all of your papers. Shred what is no longer owned or needed, and keep only the most recent statements. If you sold a piece of property, shred that old deed. If a life insurance policy lapsed, shred that policy.
Step two is to make sure all of your accounts, properties and policies are listed somewhere. I run into countless family members asking me what was in mom or dad’s estate, and I would not know. There are billions of dollars throughout the country that are “unclaimed” because as people pass away, family members are not aware that an asset exists, and do not put in the proper claim. This can be easily avoided by simply keeping track of what you own.
Finally, step three is to make sure there is a “map” or directions to where all of these important papers are located. This “map” needs to be able to be found. We provide our clients with these tools, so the “map” is with the other estate planning documents – ready to be used as needed.
Not finding the container cost me a couple of minutes in looking. Not finding an asset can cost thousands of dollars in time and effort, and potentially that asset could remain unclaimed.
Get organized today.
Contributed by MH Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces Estate Planning Attorney, James P. Plitz.
Why Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall? First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters. Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones. We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership. If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.