Money Talks | Jan. 15, 2015

By Melissa Myers and Michael J. Tucker, Jan. 15, 2015.

Melissa Myers: The new year is a great time to get set goals for the months ahead. One goal everyone should have for 2015 is to get organized in case of an emergency.

Michael J. Tucker: We have all experienced, or heard of, situations where the unexpected happens with loved ones or family members – such as untimely death or health crisis – and when that person’s affairs are not in order, it’s even more difficult.

Myers: In the event of an emergency, we should all have a few basic documents in place and they should be kept where relatives or loved ones can find them.

Tucker: Wills denote how we want to dispose of our assets and care for those who depend on us for support. If you’ve gotten married in Arizona, you may want to update your will accordingly.

Myers: Durable Powers of Attorney designate who will manage our finances in the event that we were to become incapacitated.

Tucker: Advanced Health Care Directives prescribe our wishes for end-of-life medical care and designate someone to carry out those wishes.

Myers: Make sure all of your IRAs, employer-sponsored retirement plans and life insurance policies have up-to-date beneficiary designations.

Tucker: Right. I don’t want to get any phone calls in 2015 saying that someone’s ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend inherited the IRA or the life insurance, and that goes double for those of you who have gotten married or divorced.

Myers: This is especially important if you married in 2014. If your partner is your beneficiary on an account, employee benefit or life insurance policy, make sure you change the relationship to “spouse.”

Tucker: Next, consider creating a summary of your documents and contacts that your loved ones will need to handle any situation.

Myers: Create a master list with complete contact information. This should include information about your legal, tax and financial professionals.

Tucker: Include the banking and brokerage institutions, account types, account numbers and passwords. Also add a list of credit card accounts and numbers.

Myers: Naturally, you will want a list of any insurance policies (health, life, auto, disability, long-term care, etc.) and the contact information for the agents.

Tucker: Have a list of close relatives, employers, mortgage information and utilities with names of companies and account numbers.

Myers: Additionally, labeling your keys for your cars, office, home, second home, etc., can help during unexpected situations.

Tucker: The list of passwords is particularly important these days – how to access your computer, and passwords to your online accounts, including social media sites.

Myers: When you have gathered all of this information, store it in a clearly marked folder in your home or office, in a place that’s safe but accessible to the appropriate person. Let one or two important people in your life know you have created this file and where it is located.

Tucker: This is a formidable task, but if you make a concerted effort some rainy weekend afternoon, you will rest more easily in 2015, having done all you can to be prepared for an emergency.

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