Yes, you can avoid many problems by securing your important documents, and telling your family where they are stored, concedes Saaabira Chaudhuri, writing in the Wall Street Journal. But that isn’t to say you should keep everything, she warns. “Sometimes people hold onto so many papers that loved ones can’t find the important ones easily.”
To prove the point, Chaudhuri tells the story of Jane B. and her 87-year old mother.  It took the pair an entire year to go through all the mom’s papers, “which included documents from eight bank accounts, utility bills from the 1950s and reams of cancelled checks.”  When the mother died in 2009, Ms. B. estimated that having the documents organized ahead of time “spared me from ordering an additional 15 copies of the death certificate and ‘years of time’!”

In addition to estate planning documents such as:

  • Will
  • Revocable trust
  • Letter of instruction
  • Durable financial power of attorney
  • Healthcare power of attorney,

other documents that can be important in helping family members settle your affairs include:

  • list of financial accounts and online log-in information
  • list of loans you made to others
  • tax returns for the most recent three years
  • safety deposit box information
  • life insurance policies, including those granted by your employer after retirement
  • list of pensions and annuities
  • marriage license
  • qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) from a divorce
  • child support, alimony and property settlements
  • list of important advisors such as accountant, attorney and financial advisor

The attorneys at Geyer Law know that organizing paperwork may mean culling the documents which are important. That isn’t to say you should keep everything; just what is necessary.

– by  Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Guyer blog team