BOSTON (CBS) – Thanksgiving week is a perfect time to celebrate families for most of us are gathering around a table on Thursday with our families.

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

A gift you can give your family and yourself is having all of your financial paperwork organized. If something should happen to you does someone know where all the important stuff is kept? Where are all the important papers of your life? The Table of Contents of your life?

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. Start with a list of the important people and their phone numbers and addresses. Then a list of where the important documents are.

For example, you live in Massachusetts and your widowed sister lives in Pennsylvania. If something should happen to her do you have her friends’ phone numbers, the next-door neighbor’s number? A list of the important people in her life. Her doctor? Does she 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania?

What about your estate planning? A recent survey found that less than 40% of Americans have wills. If you don’t have a will 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. A Health Care Proxy allows someone to make medical decisions for you if you cannot.

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 Botox 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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You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.

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