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Financial Fitness & Life Planning

Checklist of Legal Documents

Planning for the other side of 50 involves more than having a well-structured financial plan. Don’t leave the other important parts of your life to chance. With a few basic legal documents and some well kept files and instructions you can make certain that your wishes, choices and decisions are known and followed at a time when you may be unable to express them or make them for yourself. Moreover, maintaining and updating these documents can enable your spouse, family or friends to assist you more easily.
This checklist of suggested documents and files is by no means exhaustive. The form of the legal documents may vary from state to state and it is advisable to consult an attorney should you have any questions or need further advice.
Legal Documents:
   Do you have:
      - A will
      - A health care proxy or living will – a document in which you appoint individuals to make medical  decisions for you based upon the instructions and treatment preferences you express in the document
       - A power of attorney – a document in which you appoint individuals to handle your financial and day to day affairs. This can be general or limited to certain types of decisions and matters
Files and Records
   Do you have a file with:
      - Your health insurance policies, including disability and long term care policies
      - Your life insurance policies, including those from former employers, military benefits, credit cards, banks, etc.
      - Your home, auto and other insurance policies
      - A listing of your bank, credit union and brokerage accounts and your retirement accounts or sources of pension or death benefits
      - A list of your other assets (real estate, rental income, cash, debts owed to you)
      - The name or your attorney, accountant, broker, banker
      - The location of any safe deposit box and the key
      - The pin codes and passwords to your various accounts and the passwords to any password    protected files on your computer
      - Your social security number
      - The location of your original will
      - Maudlin, but necessary, whether you have a cemetery plot and whether you have any special arrangements or preferences you want upon your death
                                                     * * * * *
Finally, and most importantly, make sure you tell the people you trust the location of these documents so they can access them quickly should the need arise.
This valuable check list was provided by the “Next Steps” team of Barbara Kessler and Rosemary Byrne The Next Steps Team can be reached at:
Barbara Kessler

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February 22, 2010 - 4:54pm

Christine Smith

Many of these things I have never thought of, but I am sure are very important. I think maybe I haven't thought of it before because you never really want to think of will happen when you're not around. I think writing down your passwords is especially good advice, since I'm sure there are so many people that have all different ones for things like bank accounts, e-mail, stocks, etc.

February 18, 2010 - 8:30pm

Joan Francis

Informative and helpful guide

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