The idea of getting every personal record — bank and credit card account information, social media emails and passwords, doctor and lawyer contact information, former addresses and employment — might seem daunting, but it’s one of the most necessary tasks a person can do in her life. An emergency or death is often not the time people can think straight, let alone remember or find crucial information of the ill or deceased. Having a designated place to gather and store pertinent information can help loved ones efficiently manage their duties, reach out to necessary people and save time in the midst of personal turmoil. Of course, that means everyone — young and old — needs to get organized, a task often procrastinated.
There are five stages to organizing personal information: initiation, identification,examination and comparison, selection and modification and lastly, categorization, according to a 2013 Rutgers student’s report called “The Process of Organizing Personal Information.” The hardest part as the saying goes is usually just getting started. “It takes time,” says Nancy Doyle, author of “Manage Your Financial Life: A Thoughtful, Organized Approach for Women.”
Organizing can be overwhelming, it can be boring and sometimes, it can seem unnecessary. Disorganization is often the result of an inability to prioritize, a lack of a formal organization system, hoarding, distractibility, poor memory or even depression. Once a person pinpoints why he is disorganized, he can begin a customized approach to fixing it and getting everything neat.
Once everything is prepared and safely stored, individuals need to find one trusted person they can share the information with, such as where to find these documents and passwords to important accounts, Doyle said. If no one in the family fits the job description, people may turn to professionals, such as an attorney or financial adviser, to know where these documents are.
Sometimes, multiple people can act as “deputies,” such as a spouse who has full control of everything, but a sibling who takes care of pets and a friend who manages social media accounts. The deputy should be people that you trust to carry out the different things you want and specify.