December 1, 2014
Many of us have good intentions of organizing our financial affairs, but who has the time? We all lead hectic lives and some tasks that may seem unimportant at the time fall to the bottom of the “to-do” list. However, taking an hour here and there to organize and update your financial and medical records can save you and your family hours of stress, frustration, and even money down the road.
Keeping good medical records includes knowing what immunizations and vaccinations you and your family members have had and when they were last given.
It also includes knowing what medications are being taken and what allergies someone may have. Keeping an updated list, especially for those with a chronic illness or elderly parents, can be helpful if ever that person is hospitalized and is unable to communicate for themselves or are unable to recall all their medications.
A medical power of attorney gives someone else the authority to make decisions about your health and treatment plan in the event you are incapacitated. It outlines what measures you want taken, if any, to save your life. Ensure that your family knows if you have a medical power of attorney, what your wishes may be, and where to find the documents.
Wills are important and it is important to keep them up to date and to discuss their contents with family members so that everyone is clear about your final wishes. Drafting a will with a lawyer will help ensure that it meets all legal requirements and that there is no room for misinterpretation. Let your family members know where to find your will and who your lawyer is.
You will also want to keep a record of your bank accounts, investment accounts, life insurance policies, retirement savings plans, and financial service advisors. Often times we change jobs and forget that we have an accrued pension sitting on account. Keeping a list of all your financial records and updating them periodically will reduce the chance of leaving money sitting lost in an account.
Knowing what accounts are where, will also make it easier for you to update information if you move or change relationships that require a change to a beneficiary or power of attorney.
It’s a good idea to keep duplicate copies of your records – one that is secure but accessible at home and another in a safety deposit box.
The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) has developed a virtual shoebox that you may find helpful in getting started.
Immunize Canada has published a brochure that lets you track what vaccinations are required and how often they are required.
With these tools at hand, try to squeeze in a few hours, and get your affairs in order and start the New Year off with one task already crossed off your “to-do” list.
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