Yikes. According to this recently updated Nolo guidebook/organizer, there are 28 important tasks most of us should complete before we leave this world. Some will be obvious. Many will take lots of forethought and organization. Some will need frequent updating. But with the help offered here in this well organized Nolo guidebook and additional help, as needed, from its web site, we can each of us create our own unique planner.
In all likelihood, for most of us that would involve: composing a letter to loved ones and keeping it up to date (I have a friend who reviews his every year right after he does his taxes and updates it as necessary.) Then there's the matter of insurance policies--the ones you have, the ones you need, and where those you leave behind can find them and other important documents.
Do you know how to avoid probate? Have you a healthcare directive? A durable power of attorney for finances? Are you dithering between a will and a revocable trust? This book will help you figure out which would work best for you. Also make sure your family knows who has access to your bank and brokerage accounts, your safe deposit box and your passwords and what impact your death will have on your retirement and Social Security accounts. Also the current state of your state's estate and/or inheritance taxes and how they'll affect you and yours...and how to ensure that your real estate, vehicles and other income and property go where you want them to go.
If you want some say in what they say about you after you're gone, you may want to ensure that your bio's up to date and included in the planner and, if you want some say on what goes into your obituary and what your funeral is like, your "planner" is the place to get it down on paper and make that known.
Not easy. Not fun. But needs to be done and this Nolo book and their web site should be a very big help.
As someone who has spent a considerable amount of time organizing a personal "briefing book" for my family, I know how daunting a task it can seem. But having observed close friends go thru incredible struggles when their loved ones died without leaving relevant information on their wishes/directives and where to find the needed financial and other documents, I wanted to ensure I could spare my family that kind of intense chaos.
If only I'd had a book like this available to me. I could have saved a lot of time--There are things in here I never thought of and I am an exceptional researcher and very detail oriented. I'm not going to list all that is included here because you can see a large chunk of what is included in the book by clicking on the Amazon expanded preview. The information and resources are relevant to everyone, not just seniors, retirees, parents or those with a serious illness. (Everybody needs to plan ahead. EVERYONE!)
This book is exactly the jump-starter you need to get moving on compiling and organizing the information you need (financial, health care, personal, etc.) no matter your age or economic standing, to make available to your family and friends. It doesn't do the work for you, but it lays out the steps and if you do the work and prep BEFORE it's needed, you'll save a lot of time, resources and heartache for those who must "take over" your life as it were or implement the game plan.
Even if you don't want to undertake filling out the forms right now, I urge you to read thru, scan if you must, to see what's involved. This book makes it a truly painless process.
I'm a longtime Nolo book fan having read numerous books over the years including those that helped me with preparing a will and providing legal and financial information on running a small business. The material is always relevant and accurate (as it can be at time of printing).
Aside from the information in the book, including the pages and pages of forms--perhaps more than a quarter of the book itself (The forms can be downloaded online in RTF format that can be opened/edited/saved and printed. The link is provided in the book.), Nolo purchases include free legal updates. This is a great feature and one of the reasons I prefer its books on financial and legal topics over others that are available.
A note: As good as this book is, you are likely to need additional detailed information based on your specific circumstances. This is not a criticism of the book, just a heads-up. Given the makeup of today's contemporary families, there is often the need for very specific legal/financial advice and followup. But again, this book sets you off on the path in an easy, functional fashion that will inspire you to complete your "end game" plans.
The sections of special interest to me included how to find a lawyer and other experts; Chapter 14 (Burial or Cremation); Chapter 15 (Funeral and Memorial Services); and Chapter 16 (Obituary). I referenced the items listed in the Table of Contents (at the end of the book, the equivalent of about page 243) to those I had completed in my own "briefing book."
I liked that the book included biographical information forms because often people overlook the most basic and obvious information, assuming that either people know or can easily find when such is not often the case. (And one should remember, it could be possible that absolute strangers end up addressing your needs/wishes due to circumstances you can't control.)
This book would make an excellent gift for any individual or family who needs a gentle push to get moving on compiling this information. The book won't do the work for you, but it will make it a lot easier and faster for YOU to do it.
This is the fourth volume I have obtained for the purpose of organizing essential information about household records. Fortunately, I have not taken the time to use the first three tools so I will not need to re-do the work now that this comprehensive book has appeared.
Set Your House in Order: A Workbook to Organize Your Finances and Plan Your Estate was, up until now, the most comprehensive tool for providing information for my children or other personal representative. I believe that Get It Together is an even more comprehensive and flexible way to prepare your heirs for a smooth transition in the event of your death, although either one is far preferable to nothing.
The book provides online forms at [...] to simplify the record-keeping. In case you purchase a different automobile, move to a different address, or even marry a different spouse, there are multiple spaces for providing this information. In fact, there are spaces for information on 36 purchased automobiles, 40 leased vehicles, 11 real properties, 5 spouses, and 5 children.
Although the forms are very comprehensive, I was disappointed by the lack of spaces to record important information about subscriptions and automatic online payments. I subscribe to numerous publications, many of which are renewed automatically when the subscription term runs out. I contribute to several charitable causes with automatic charges to my credit card. The lack of this information would be a real handicap to anyone assigned the responsibility for discharging my estate.
Recently, a good friend of ours lost her husband to leukemia, and she has had a difficult time getting her finances in order. A book like this, with complete information, would have greatly helped her in dealing with her grief as well as the myriad financial details.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is willing to put forth the effort to record the information so their survivors will have their work simplified after their death or disabling illness.
[Added Note: I believe that my concerns about automatically renewing subscriptions and automatic online payments can be addressed via the Credit Cards and Debits forms in the Planner. Thanks to the author for pointing this out to me!]
In my career as a financial advisor, one of the biggest challenges most of my clients had was organizing their financial records. They were thrilled when I gave them a checklist of what important records they needed and how to organize them. When I read this book, I realized that here is a tool that will help almost every family gather and organize their financial records.
This book provides valuable information on how, what and why to keep/organize these records. The publisher's website, nolo.com, provides links to download the forms needed to complete this task.
I wish I had this book when I was still advising clients. Highly recommended.
on June 23, 2013
This is an excellent manual for people who want to put all of the information in one place that their loved ones may need if they are injured in an accident, suffering from a severe temporary illness, unconscious, severely disabled, dying or dead. The manual shows you how to collect all of the information that your family and friends will need into one binder. It is written in blessedly direct, ordinary English. You will not need a legal dictionary to understand its instructions.
The book provides pages for your binder that you can tear out, photocopy or download from the nolo.com website, with titles like "Letter to Loved Ones," "Health Care Directives," and many other topics your family and friends would need to know about to provide the best possible medical care for you while you're ill or injured and to honor your last wishes if you should pass away.
You'll need patience to go through the book, a chapter at a time. The book will help you herd all of your paperwork into one place, saving your family and friends infinite aggravation if you are temporarily ill or permanently gone.
This manual can be useful to young people in good health as well as seniors with chronic medical conditions.
I gave the book a "4" instead of a "5" because I felt that the introduction "Your Get It Together Companion" -- written from the standpoint of one of the two co-authors -- overemphasized the need to have this binder in case of your death, as in the statement "Living out my days as though each might be my last is a wake-up call." Uh -- not for everyone!
On the other hand, the second introduction that follows it, "Who Needs to Plan Ahead?," was much more useful in describing the benefits of this type of binder for groups ranging from seniors to young adults.
A suggestion I would make to Nolo.com for improvement of this book would be the possible insertion of information specifically directed towards different age groups. For example, in the "Obituaries" chapter, the book extensively discusses print newspaper obituaries, costs of newspaper obituaries, and getting your obituary in your employer's newsletter.
The possibility of an "online" obituary is not dealt with other than in one or two brief mentions. But for many young adults and even middle-aged adults -- they are no longer reading print newspapers. Many of the print newspapers are disappearing. Many Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millenials will likely turn to online websites, where they can put up "memorial webpages," complete with chances to post pictures, music and final recorded words.
Nolo.com may wish to discuss online obituaries as extensively as the print newspaper obituaries in future editions of the book. Similar adjustments -- considering the needs of different age groups in more detail -- might be usefully made to other chapters.
Despite these minor complaints, the book is excellent.
on September 5, 2014
This book is much more helpful because I purchased the 3-ring notebook that Nolo Press sells to accompany it. The notebook has tabs with headings like "insurance," "investments," etc. The tabs make it so easy to figure out what papers to gather and include. This book, with the 3-ring notebook, are the reason that I've finally gathered together the papers that I've been intending to gather together for many years. Be sure to buy the 3-ring notebook if you want the job to go easier.
"Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won't Have To" is specifically targeted to seniors, caretakers, and people facing deployment or serious illness, to help them organize their records so that important information and documents are available to their families should they pass away or become incapacitated. However, I think this book would be useful for anybody who wants to keep his/her papers together.
The necessity of having all vital documents (or at least copies of them) in one place and readily accessible became very evident to me after a tsunami threat that forced us to evacuate to higher ground in the middle of the night. Only after we returned home did I realize that I had run out of the house not only without important documents such as passports but also without even the contact information for our insurance company. Setting up the planner suggested by "Get It Together" before a disaster strikes can help readers in cases of emergencies too because when you're trying to outrun a tsunami or a hurricane, it is not the time to try to remember where you stashed away your insurance policy.
"Get It Together" is divided in two parts. The first part is comprised of 28 chapters or topics. The second part provides the blank forms to the 28 topics. The book assists readers in identifying and arranging personal documents (such as birth and marriage certificates) and then documents related to their children and other dependents and even their pets. Documents regarding to employment, business interests, memberships, bank and brokerage accounts, retirement and pension plans, social security, insurance, credit cards and debts, taxes, real estate, and vehicles also have a place in the planner. Estate planning documents that should be included are health care directives, wills and trusts. End-of-life documents are filed in the planner under these categories: Durable Power of Attorneys for Finances, Secured Places and Passwords, Organ and Body Donation, Burial or Cremation, Funeral and Memorial Services, Obituary, and Letter to Loved Ones. Each chapter gives a brief overview and/or basic information on the topic. The book also makes suggestions from how to choose a health care agent to how to write your epitaph. It also includes additional resources such as websites and books. These additional resources are not necessarily related to Nolo.
I found "Get It Together" to be a very comprehensive organizer and helpful as it keeps me focus since it takes the guessing out of what documents and/or information should or should not be included in the planner. Instructions to fill out the forms are provided under the respective chapters. Readers can use the forms that come with the book or download them from Nolo's website. Forms are in Word and PDF formats and according to the website, are available to download until October 24, 2015.
on August 5, 2014
This book presents a great framework for organizing the info your heirs will need to assist you in managing your affairs if you are unable to, as well as the info needed to settle your estate.
My elderly parents live half way across the country. We all recognize that the time is approaching when I may have to help them manage their affairs and eventually settle their estate. I knew I needed information from them, but I didn't know exactly what to ask. This book was a huge help.
I bought a copy for myself, then sent them a copy before I went to see them. We worked through it chapter by chapter. Not only does the book deal with financial and legal matters, but it also has a place to record your wishes about things such as what you want in a memorial service, where you want an obituary published, and what arrangements you've made for cremation or burial. These are difficult topics to discuss, but because it was in the book, we did it. I liked the fact that this book acknowledges that people have many online accounts and passwords, and someone will need access to them eventually, so you'll need to record them. It brings up things I would not have thought of, such as keeping a record of automatic subscriptions or payments, at which branch you have a safe deposit box and where you store the key, military service and other biographical info, and the combination to your home safe.
The book has forms in the back where you can record the copious amounts of info your heirs might need. You can also download the forms if you want to fill them out on the computer. The book recommends printing it all out and putting it into a binder so it will be easy for loved ones to access when the time comes.
The book also addresses the need for wills and trusts, living wills, and powers of attorney.
After working through this book, I feel much more confident that I have the info I need to help my parents when the time comes. The book brings up many items I would not have thought to ask about. Both my parents and I are greatly relieved that we're getting things in order.
on January 13, 2013
This is an excellent beginner's manual that would be most useful to a young couple starting out and needing basic information about life events and the need to document/prepare. It is far less useful, although it still has some utility, for retirees. It's strength for all is the accumulation of forms into one place rather than spred over multiple reference sites.
on May 5, 2014
This is the best book of its kind I've seen. This is a comprehensive workbook with 28 sections covering everything from health care directives to financial information,to personal property to your pets care and feeding to passwords and much more. Best of all it is not just a list of directions to find documents, there are tips, instructions and resources for each section so you and your loved ones can better understand each of your documents. The book is designed so you can remove each page you need and put it in a 3 ring binder. There is plenty of room to update information or you can download extra forms and updates from Nolo's website.