BOSTON (CBS) – For over 40 years National Family Week has been celebrated during Thanksgiving week.

Thanksgiving is a perfect time to celebrate families.

So I thought this week would be an opportune time to talk about families and money. Most families would much rather talk about the Patriots than their finances.

Let’s start where a financial planner would have you start; organization of your stuff. Where are all the important papers of your life? If something should happen to you does someone know where all your important stuff is kept?

Having someone in your life who can access your important papers is crucial at every age. And is your important stuff organized and filed so they can find it? You don’t want them to have to ransack your home looking for your stuff.

What about a list of the important people and their phone numbers and addresses? For example, you live in Massachusetts and your son lives in Virginia. If something should happen to him do you have his friends’ phone numbers, his next-door neighbor’s number? A list of the important people in his life? His doctor? Does he have that information for you? You may never need it, but and buts are always big, if it’s ever needed.

Now consider what would happen if you had an accident in Virginia while visiting this week for Thanksgiving and needed someone here in Massachusetts to find your important documents. Could you tell them exactly where to find them? Could they pay the bills while you convalesced in Virginia?

Have you done your estate planning? A recent survey finds that only 40% of Americans have wills. If you don’t when you die the state has one prepared for you.

Do you have a Durable Power of Attorney and have you signed a Health Care Proxy? These are important documents. A power of attorney allows someone to act on your behalf legally and financially if you should be become incapacitated.

One more thing:  Just mention Terri Schiavo and you get a reaction from people.

The Florida Supreme Court got involved, the Governor of Florida, and the President. Do you want these people messing in your life and telling your family what to do?

They have Tupperware parties why not Health Care Proxy parties! Once you have these documents let the important people in your life know where you keep them.

Check out my website and download the worksheet Document Locator.


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