1.  Put your papers together!

All your important papers and information should be in one place in case you have an emergency or if something should happen to you.  I am a big fan of labeled folders, which makes it easy to file and access information.   These important documents and information include:

Birth, marriage, divorce decree, citizenship papers, and death certificates (loved ones)

Passport

Photo of driver’s  license

Military and Educational Records

Social security number

Bank account numbers and contact info, credit card numbers

Burial or cremation instructions

Doctors names and numbers, medications you are taking and dosages

Will/Trust

Power of Attorney for Health Care and for business transactions

Mortgage info, deeds, property tax info

Safety deposit box key and info

Insurance policies (house, car, health, disability, renters)

Warranties and receipts for major purchases

Contact information for financial advisors, accountants, lawyers

Contact info for close family and friends

List of passwords to all accounts.  (Consider using an online system to record all of your passwords such as Last Pass.)

2.   Have an estate plan/update current plan

Everyone should have an estate plan—a will and/or trust that disposes of property when you pass.  You should notify the executor or trustee of your wishes so this is not a surprise.  You should have a power of attorney for health care which tells your loved ones how you want to handle your end of life decisions.  You should also have a general power of attorney that gives a designated loved one the right to transact business on your behalf if you are disabled.

3.  Put together folders for tax preparation for 2015 now.

Put together labeled folders for income, expenses, charitable deductions, transportation expenses, etc.  Put your receipts, credit card statements, etc.  in the folders as you go and tax preparation at the end of the year will be simple. 

4.  Review your current insurance.  Is it sufficient to protect you?   Are you over-insuring your home/property? If the value of your home has decreased, you may want to decrease the coverage.  Consider buying an umbrella policy that will cover losses in excess of your home/renters and auto insurance.  Ask your insurance agent about the benefits.

5.   Review your employment manual.  Know your rights if you are terminated or if you need to take a leave.  If you can print it out, do so and keep it in a file.  Review your retirement monies and pension rights to learn exactly what you are entitled to and when.

6.  Get your credit report.  It is an easy thing to do and it will tell you what is being reported.  If your identity has been used, the report will tell you this.   Look at your credit card debt.  Read the terms of your credit card contracts.  Is there a way to consolidate your debt so you can pay it off this year?  

7.   Consider computer security.  Identity theft and hacking are rampant.  Consider hiring a service that protects you.  Change your passwords and make sure they are not predictable. 

8.  If applicable, review your divorce decree.  Are you receiving the proper amount of child support?  Are your children going to college soon?  There may be a need to consult a lawyer about how to handle the changes that have occurred since your marriage was dissolved. 

As always, call me if you have legal issues.  I wish everyone a very Happy 2015!

This post was written by Karen Conti: Partner