Your Vital Documents. Lets Get Organized!

Boomer Magazine, June 2008

BY DENISE HAY

Quick! You have only a few seconds to grab your important personal paperwork from your home and get out safely in the midst of a fire or natural disaster. Would you know where to find them?  What about locating end-of-life documents like wills and trusts in your parent’s homes as they deal with a serious illness or injury?  Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?  Most of us don’t get too excited about picking up around the house, let alone taking the time to get a handle on our important estate paperwork.  I recently spent some time with Professional Organizer and Certified Estate Organizer, Kimberly Meredith.  She operates her business, Simplify Our Life, in the St. Louis, Mo. area and in South Florida.  Within an hour, she instilled the value of facing my fears and preparing my vital documents for those who will follow after me and encouraging others to do so, as well.

When Kimberly lost four family members within a 22-month period it changed the focus of her life forever.  Being the go-to person for her family, she learned the invaluable importance of preparing and reviewing vital documents in advance of a crisis.  “Most people don’t have the capacity to handle the unexpected in coordination with their daily lives,” Meredith says.  In the wake of a multitude of recent natural disasters throughout the U.S., China, and Burma, my concern has grown to include any crisis which could destroy our personal documents and leave us going through homes or rubble searching for information, being placed on hold, or standing in lines trying to get the pieces needed to deal with the past or continue into our futures.

How did you discover Estate Organization?

“I started my own list of things that individuals needed to have prepared that occur in their daily lives that people don’t think about,” Meredith adds.  “For instance, computer access.  My father had a computer with an AOL account and yet none of us knew what his password was.  Everyday, as we all go about our daily lives, we take care of things that affect our finances,  social life, work, home, children, pets, etc. that we just don’t share with anybody.  So what happens when you or a member of your family is here today and suddenly gone tomorrow?”

What products do you use in Estate Organization?

“I work with a product called Exit Strategies, as well as, Get It Together for computer literate clients,” Meredith continues.  I’ve recently decided to use a product by Securita called Portavault because it’s easy to travel with.  Let’s say you’re an adult child of a senior who has used the Portavault and they have all of their papers in there, it’s very easy for the adult child to take that back to their home in another state and make the necessary phone calls.  Or, if you have to leave your home because of an imminent natural disaster, you can just grab it and go.”  It doesn’t take a huge chunk of time to accomplish document organization.  Just about 30 minutes a day and you’ll be finished before you know it.  Whether you store your information online, on a PC or flash drive, in a filing cabinet, in a notebook on your bookshelf, or in a portable case, your loved ones will be so grateful that you cared enough to preplan.