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Be Prepared: Putting Affairs in Order

When you hear someone say, “I just put my affairs in order,” you probably immediately thought about the person establishing financial guidelines upon his or her death. Although planning to take care of loved ones after we die represents an important part of life, newly enlisted members of the military and freshmen heading off to college must also make plans for the transition from living at home to living in a barracks or a dormitory.


Important Documents

What exactly is important to each family is different, but there are several documents that should comprise the paperwork organized as important documents.

· Birth certificate

· Social Security information

· Full legal name and legal residence

· Names and addresses of spouse and children

· Names of employers and employment dates

· Bank account data

· Retirement portfolio

· Trust

· Living will


How to Put Your Affairs in Order

Like most end of life planning, placing your affairs in order should follow a certain sequence.


Organize Personal and Business Paperwork

You can set up a digital file containing all your important personal and financial documents. Just make sure to separate the personal from the financial paperwork for quicker access. Maintaining a paper file of your personal and financial documents provides a secondary source of the critical information your family needs after you die.


Choose One Person to Handle Your Affairs

Although everything should be clearly defined when it comes to legal documents such as trusts, estates, and wills, you still need to select a trusted family member to execute your wishes upon your death. First, explain where you have stored your important documents. Then, write out a list of instructions on how to proceed with handling your affairs.


Communicate with Your Physician

Your doctor should describe the end of life decisions you have to make, as well as all the options to ensure you cover every legal issue. Discussing how to plan for advanced care takes much of the pressure off close family members that you designate to make end of life decisions. Communicating with your physician also establishes a form of payment, whether it is Medicare or a private health insurance plan. Your doctor should receive approval to contact your caregiver to discuss medical issues.


Putting Your Affairs in Order Before Joining the Military

The most important document that relates to a military career is called the DD214 Form. Every piece of information concerning your service, discharge, and enlistment appears on this important military document. DD214 also creates a plan that pertains to your burial honors. Make sure you make copies of this critical form, as the Veterans Administration (VA) can take as long as two months to send you a replacement form. In addition, make sure to clarify how you want assets distributed upon your death, as well as arrange for your military pay to deposit directly into your bank account. If your enlistment includes deployment abroad, you have to take care of your family financially before you depart for active duty.


Putting Your Affairs in Order Before College

Putting your affairs in order before college is a bit different than planning for end of life decisions or enlisting in a branch of the military. Because of the digitization of our economy, college students entering their first year of school can probably keep the bank account they have opened back home. There is no need to open an account on a different city. Just make sure you have access to your account online. College students should also find housing on campus or off campus early in the summer before enrollment. Organize your clothes to account for the limited space offered in most dorm rooms. If you live relatively close to home, you can return every few months to retrieve another batch of seasonal apparel.

An Ohio licensed attorney who specializes in handling client affairs can alleviate some of the workload involved in putting your affairs in order. It takes a little work but you will find it well worth it to keep your family out of Court and conflict!



James Schroeder is an attorney licensed to practice in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia

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