Resolve to organize household documents

As the new year approaches, we are given the opportunity to set the tone for organization within our home, family, farm, or business, large or small.

Organizing important paperwork and information can be a headache for some, while others cannot wait for the chance to create a new file folder. But for those of us that dread the work, we might ask ourselves why this task is so crucial. If you haven’t yet, you will soon find that legal documents, financial records, and other paper records are vital to the function of your home, farm, business, etc.

These important records are imperative to decision making for your family, saving and spending, taxes, medical decisions, credit, and setting goals for the future. Often we have the papers, they just are not stored safely or easily accessible when we need them.

What do you need to know and have ready if you are forced to leave your home quickly during a disaster or an emergency? What information would your family or business partners need to have access to in the event of the death or incapacitation of a family member or key team member?

According to the University of Utah Cooperative Extension, these valuable or hard-to-replace documents should be kept in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box at a bank or a fireproof box at home. You may choose to keep the item at home unless it is a legal document or is difficult to replace or duplicate; in that case, it should be kept in a safe-deposit box or possibly left with your attorney.

If you ever have a doubt about what you should keep or toss, hold on to the paper and ask your attorney, finical planner, etc. Always keep business partners and family members up to date on where important information and files are located, so they can be easily accessed if needed.

Your household should be viewed as a mini-business since many of the functions of planning, purchasing, and record keeping would be the same if you’re operating a business or organization. Having a systematic approach to keep track of and file important papers or information that come into your home or office is essential.

Plan and evaluate what types of records you will be keeping and create a filing system that works for you, your family, or business partners; this can help preserve peace and harmony, as well as, make it easier to cope in emergency situations. Get rid of those stacks of paperwork before something gets lost or you spend hours searching.

Megan Addison is the health and human services educator for Purdue Extension in Hancock County. She is a lifelong county resident.