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Organizing your information

by John R. Berry

As you approach the natural turning point of retirement, this is a great time to think about getting organized. You have been so busy growing your career, helping your children and grandchildren, or both. It’s easy to neglect getting organized.

This is important on two fronts:

First, as you prepare to leave your career behind, you’ll want to migrate any personal information you keep at work to your home office—papers, personal e-mails, contacts you’ve built up. Also do the world a favor and clean up your electronic profile when appropriate. That’s your LinkedIn, Facebook, and anywhere else your employer would be mentioned.

Another task to complete with your employer is to collect information about benefits you are entitled to or might be able to continue, including pensions as well as life and health insurance. Some larger employers offer free seminars for those who will be retiring soon. Take advantage of these!

Another, somewhat more cumbersome area you may need to focus on is your Emergency Binder. Some call it a Legacy Binder or Legacy Drawer. The essence of this tool is that it’s a single place to store critical information for those who need it should you die or become incapacitated. This isn’t a retirement requirement, but retirement is a natural time to work on this, since you’ll have more time.

In your emergency binder, you should include:

  • Basic documents like wills and trusts, powers of attorney, burial wishes, and so on.
  • Information about who is in your family and key medical information like doctors and prescriptions.
  • You should also include a listing of financial accounts, including account numbers or statement copies, lists of financial professionals you use, as well as how to log in online.
  • Details about insurance policies and pensions as well as any military background details.
  • And don’t forget nonfinancial logins to accounts such as Facebook. You’ll want someone to be able to deactivate these if you are no longer able to use them.

In summary, as you prepare to retire, start migrating your life toward the home front by cleaning up your physical and digital space at work. And just as if not more important, organize your important information in one place if you haven’t done so already.  

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM and owner of Corner Post Financial Planning, John R. Berry may be reached at (940) 325-9800.