Do you know where your important papers are?

Tanya Winch
Tanya Winch

Like most Americans, I like TV.  But I can’t seem to get in sync with the shows I love, so I DVR.  I get very excited about finding new shows on my DVR; especially the show named Castle.  I am a huge fan. Recently I watched an episode where my buddy Castle and his TV daughter had to check a safety deposit box for important information.  It made me think about the fact that, although I have been in quite a few banks, I have never even seen a safety deposit box except for on TV or in the movies.  Then I began to wonder if my parents have one, which then led me to wonder where I might find all of their important paperwork.  Is there a file floating around somewhere?

I am aware that my parents created a very good estate plan, which is extremely important, but not the focus of this blog.  Instead, this blog hopefully will prompt you to get a handle on where your parent’s important documents are held.  Maybe you’ll even put yours together and share them.

If, or when, your parents have an unforeseen accident, illness or become unable to care for themselves any longer, you will most definitely need to be aware of who they have listed as their Power of Attorney. If you find that they have not created a POA document, then let them know they are doing EVERYONE in your family (especially themselves) a huge disservice!  Very important decisions may/will potentially be made by someone that may not even know your parent.  It could be a legal disaster and is completely avoidable by making certain that your parents have a POA.  Get them to get on it!!!  Shoot, you might even want to get on it for yourself!

Once you’ve had the discussion about who is Power of Attorney, it would be a really good idea to find out where that document is being held; possibly obtain a copy.   And, while you’re at it, it is a really good idea to find out where you will find and/or help collect and create a file for all the following:

  • Copies of insurance policies – health, property, life, auto
  • Will
  • Bank information
  • Passwords for online accounts
  • Deeds and titles
  • Property records
  • Marriage license
  • Passport / copies of drivers license / Social Security card
  • Name, address and telephone for:
  •  Attorney
  • Insurance Agents
  • Household service providers

And, lastly, if they don’t have a Financial Plan, help them look into finding someone to get them on track.  If they do have a planner, definitely get to know what is going on in your parent’s long term plan by asking them to let you be a part of the next meeting with their planner!