If You Don’t Have a File Like This, You Need One

If You Don’t Have a File Like This, You Need One

Throughout our lives we frequently overlook doing some important things. We don’t mean to, it just happens. At times we tell ourselves we’ll do it later and then we forget about it.

Our Health is Going to Decline –

There is Now Way We Can Avoid It

I am sure you will agree as most people age, their health is probably going to deteriorate. We saw it happen with our grandparents, our parents, our uncles and aunts. We also saw it happen with our friends and people we have known.

While we have seen this happening to others, we think we’re invincible. We are totally healthy right now, or what we consider to be totally healthy. That’s not going to change. If our health does deteriorate, it’s not going to happen until sometime far into the future.

Because we put off thinking about this, we don’t adequately prepare for what will happen when our health declines.

A File for All Your Important Papers

There are some things you need to have in place when your health deteriorates. One very important thing is a file with all of your important papers in it. That would include all of those things which your family or a close friend will need in the event you have a serious medical emergency and you become incapacitated or die. With the documents and information in this file, they will be able to handle all of your affairs very easily for you.

At the Aging: A Family Affair Workshop in November of 2017, Sandy Bell and Betsy Peterson conducted a session on “Staying or Moving? Planning for Transitions.” One handout Betsy had at this session was on the “Red File.” She referred to it as a “vital records file.”  Michael Emmerman, a well-known financial adviser and managing director at the Investment Management firm, Neuberger Berman, has said

In the face of any disaster – whether it’s a fire that affected just your home or a flood or tornado that affected your entire community – you need to have access to all of your financial information.

Michael suggested keeping it in one spot. He named it the “Red File.” With this file, it would be easy for you to get back on your feet after the disaster.

In her handout, Betsy listed the types of information to put in this file.  Please click here to see those items which were on her list.

Here is my list of items I suggest you have in your file. Some of these are on Betsy’s list and some are not:

  • A 5 Wishes Living Will. This is not a normal will. It is a document that lets your family and doctor(s) know your wishes in the event you have a severe medical condition. In this will you say who you want to make medical decisions for you if you cannot. You also indicate how you want to be treated during your illness.

You can get a copy of this living will by clicking here. It is very easy to fill out.

  • Information on Your Health Insurance. If you have Medicare, include your Medicare number. If you have coverage under either Parts B or D, list the companies and your policy numbers.
  • Copies of your current Driver’s License., Social Security Card, Marriage License, Birth Certificate, and Adoption Papers (if applicable).
  • A list of the bank and brokerage accounts you have.
  • Copies of the front and back sides of any credit cards you have.
  • A list of all of your assets and debts.
  • Your user ID and password for each email and Online Account you have.
  • A note on where you keep your tax returns.
  • Your Wills, Trusts and any Power of Attorney forms.
  • The names of your executor, any trustees and guardians.
  • The names and addresses of your doctors.
  • A copy of the deed to your home.
  • Information on the Mortgage on your home and a Home Equity loan if you have one.
  • Information on your Home owners and auto Insurance along with your agent’s name and phone number.

Have Two Copies of This File

Keep one in a secure place in your home. Have the other in another place outside your home. The second one is just in case there is a fire, flood or some other catastrophe and the file at your home is destroyed.

Let someone in your family or a friend whom you trust implicitly know where these files are so that they can get to them quickly.

Times When This File May be Needed

If your home is ever broken into and some important items are stolen or if your wallet or purse are stolen, then you can go to your file and quickly determine which companies you need to call and what other action you have to take. You may have to replace credit cards, change user names and passwords and even get a new driver’s license.

If your identity is ever stolen, the information in this file will help you minimize any losses.

If you are hospitalized or incapacitated by a severe medical condition, the person you have told about this file can get it and make sure your wishes are followed and your affairs are taken care of.

It also will be much easier for your family and friends at the time of your death to handle any necessary arrangements and to honor your wishes.

Don’t Put Off Creating This File

The best time to create this file is now when you are healthy and are not having any crises. You can prepare it calmly and put everything you need into it.

A catastrophe can happen at any time:

  • Your home may be destroyed by a fire, flood or other natural disaster.
  • You can be robbed or your identity can be stolen.
  • You may have a severe medical problem requiring hospitalization.
  • You may suddenly die.

When you have your file in place, you will have much more peace of mind. You will know if anything unexpected does happen, it’s not going to be any more severe for you or your loved ones than it has to be.