Part II – Creating an Emergency File

More tips for Organizing Important Information

As you may recall from last month’s newsletter, I provided a list of some of the important documents that you “should” have in one, easily accessible but safe place. While there are many more documents than the ones I mentioned, this is a good start.

I suggest putting these documents in a three-ring binder with dividers for each section. You can also use an expanding file. Use whatever is easiest for you. I’m just thrilled if you get the process going (and your family will be too).

Make sure that whatever you wind up using is accessible and can easily be carried out of the house if and when necessary. Be very thoughtful about where you put this file. You do not want it to end up in the wrong hands. Store it in a waterproof safe that is bolted to the floor or hide a copy under a false name in a filing cabinet or on a shelf. Whichever you choose, make sure someone else knows where it is.
If you decide to keep this information on your computer, don’t forget to:

1) Encrypt & password-protect any folder or list you have on your hard drive
2) Remember the password & write it down someplace that is not accessible to stranger
3) Give it to a loved one who is not your spouse or significant other
4) Consider downloading the information and documentation from your computer to a flash drive & keep it somewhere safe;
5) You might also consider storing your important documents on a cloud server

Here’s a breakdown of what to include:

Financial Institutions & Insurance:
• Name, address, phone number & email of each company & your advisor/broker
• Account number(s)
• Location of Safety Deposit Box & key (you may want to include a description of the contents as well)
• Login Information (Password, Username, ID Number)
• Security questions or other instructions for accessing account(s) online
• All pertinent information of beneficiaries
• Name of anyone that has signatory power on the account(s)

Property:
• If you own one or more properties, a list should include the following for each property:
o The address
o Name, address, phone number & email of any co-owners
o Name, address, phone number & email of Mortgage company
o Type of Ownership (Include timeshares, rental units, etc.)
o If property is rented or leased include the name, address & phone number of the renter/lessee
o Where the Deeds can be found

Utilities & Other Service Providers:
• Name of company & type of service
• Account numbers
• Login information if you have an account on-line
• How & when bills are paid (e.g., auto withdrawal, mail, etc.)

Memberships/Subscriptions:
• Passwords, User ID, Account Numbers, etc. for:
o Social media accounts (Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, YouTube)
o Websites (personal & business)
o Email Host
o Domain Host
o Online Shopping Accounts (e.g., Amazon, eBay, etc.)
o Frequent flier accounts

Credit Cards:
• Name of Card
• Names of Cardholders
• Account number
• Security Code
• Expiration Date
• Make a copy of front & back of card

Last Wishes:
• If you haven’t done any pre-planning, this is your chance to let your loved ones know your wishes. Take some time to think about what you want with regard to:
• Funeral, burial, memorial service
• Preferred funeral home
• Specific requests:
• Graveside
• Pallbearers
• Cemetery plot location
• Type of casket or urn
• Obituary information
• Body/organ donor
• Burial clothing
• Preferred music

Medical Information:
• Names, addresses & phone numbers of treating physicians
• Allergies (include allergies to medications)
• Important diagnoses/disorders
• Important medical procedures
• Medical appliances (i.e.: pacemaker)
• Family history
• Medications you are taking
• Name, address & phone number of pharmacy
• Name, address & phone number of emergency contact

Assets/Inventory:
• List of Personal Property that has significant value including, but not limited to:
o Cars (list each one by make & model number if there’s more than one)
o Furs
o Artwork
o Antiques
o Family Heirlooms
o Jewelry
 List of who you want to have these items when you pass on. Make sure to attach a copy of the list to your will & make sure to give the executor of your will a copy as well.
 *Note: Be specific & describe the item if there’s more than one!

Insurance Information:
• Name, address, phone number & email address of broker
• Declarations Page
• Premium Amount & Due date
• Elimination period
• Policy number & Group number
• Policy period

Employment:
• Name, address & telephone number of employer and/or immediate supervisor
• Copy of Employment Contract
• Copy of any Stock Certificates
• Copy of any Retirement Plans, Pension Plans, 401K Plans, etc.
Once again, this is not a comprehensive list but it’s a great start.

If you need help with an organizing project of any kind, give us a call. We’d love to help!

Creating an Emergency File

When you see news images of people who lost everything after a natural disaster, doesn’t it make you think about how they are going to put their lives back together? http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-earthquake-image11182826

You never know when your home will be struck by a flood or an earthquake or when a personal crisis will arise. I hate to be so morbid but this is important stuff to think about and it is important to be ready for such an event.

As we live longer and collect more things-more documents, more data-there are that many more things to be managed when a crisis arises. I was stunned to read that state governments in the U.S. have taken possession of up to $400 billion in assets that relatives never claimed. Not knowing what bank accounts, other financial holdings, or insurance policies a family member has that you may be entitled to can cost you a lot of money in lost assets, professional fees and taxes. Why not collect everything you may be entitled to?

Your best course of action is to be proactive. Should you fall victim to a natural disaster, become incapacitated or g-d forbid die, you will have done your loved ones an invaluable service if you’ve provided them with all the information and documents they might need in the case of any emergency.

If there were an emergency, you wouldn’t want the people in your life to be even more stressed trying to figure out where things are and who to call. Imagine what it would be like if you had to find all of the account numbers, passwords, and important documents for a loved one without any clues? How long would that take you? How stressful would that be? What if you couldn’t figure it out? What if time was of the essence?

Although the hope is that none of your family and friends will have to look at this information for a very long time, you should, at the very least, start getting this information and documentation together. Should an illness, injury, or other emergency occur, friends and/or family members can help carry out your responsibilities while you recover.

Take a few minutes each day or a couple of days each week to pull the information and documentation together until you’re done. When you are finished, make a copy and give it to someone else, such as your lawyer, children, or parents.

If both you and your spouse or significant other were to have an accident, someone else needs to know what steps to take. To make the information as useful and comprehensive as possible, pretend at the time you’re compiling it that you’re doing so for a complete stranger. As I mentioned, in a time of crisis or grief, your loved ones may not be thinking clearly or may forget things that would otherwise be obvious.

The following is a list of the documents and information that your loved ones might need to take care of you in the event of a natural disaster, or should you become incapacitated or die.

* LAST WILL & TESTAMENT
* REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST OR OTHER TRUST DOCUMENTS
* LIST OF ALL TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY
* MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
* PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
* DIVORCE DECREES OR SEPARATION AGREEMENT
* CHILD SUPPORT DOCUMENTS
* ADOPTION RECORDS
* MORTGAGE PAPERS/REAL ESTATE DEEDS
* BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS
* MOST RECENT TAX RETURNS
* POWER OF ATTORNEY
* HEALTHCARE DIRECTIVES
* MILITARY SERVICE RECORDS/MILITARY DISCHARGE PAPERS
* INSURANCE POLICIES (MEDICAL, DISABILITY, AUTO, HOMEOWNERS, FLOOD, EARTHQUAKE, UMBRELLA, LIFE, TERM)
* AUTOMOBILE LEASES/VEHICLE TITLES
* BIRTH CERTIFICATE
* EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS/BUSINESS AGREEMENTS
* CONTACT INFORMATION (FRIENDS, FAMILY, DOCTORS, BANKERS, LAWYERS, INSURANCE BROKERS/AGENTS, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES)
* SOCIAL SECURITY CARDS/PASSPORTS/VISAS
* MEDICAL RECORDS FOR EACH FAMILY MEMBER (INCLUDE BLOOD TYPE IF KNOWN)
* DRIVER’S LICENSE OR OTHER PHOTO IDENTIFICATION
* COPIES OF ALL CURRENT CREDIT CARDS
* ALL EDUCATIONAL DEGREES AND/OR CERTIFICATIONS
* PASSWORDS & ID NAMES FOR ALL ONLINE ACCOUNTS (INCLUDING SOCIAL MEDIA)

Make sure to update your Emergency File when you change insurance policies, update your will or trust, buy or sell property, get married or divorced, have a child or experience other significant life changes.

IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ. Next month I will provide a detailed breakdown of information to be included in your Emergency File so STAY TUNED for next month’s newsletter.

If you find that compiling this information is too daunting to do by yourself, enlist the help of your spouse or your children. Of course, you may also contact me to help you, as this is a service I offer.

If you need help with an organizing project of any kind, give us a call. We’d love to help!

FAQ’S About Organizing with Organizing Concepts and Designs

1. What is a Professional Organizer?
A Professional Organizer is someone who can help you get organized or “better” organized as the case may be. That can mean organizing a room that has gotten out of hand, a closet that needs to be reorganized, de-cluttering a garage or implementing a file system and so much more. There are many Professional Organizers who specialize in particular areas, ie.-Residential Organizing and/or Office Organizing, There are others who specialize in only working with Corporate Clients. When choosing a Professional Organizer make sure that he/she has experience in the area that you want to work on.

2. What does Organizing Concepts & Designs specialize in?
Organizing Concepts & Designs specializes in Residential Organizing, Office Organizing, Relocations and Estate Sales. Please visit our website at:
www.organizingconceptsanddesigns.com for a more detailed description of our services or click on the video below.

3. What is NAPO and why should I use one of their members?
NAPO is the National Association of Professional Organizers. As a member of NAPO, I am bound by their Code of Ethics, a set of principles that provides guidelines for our professional conduct with our clients, colleagues, and community. As a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, I pledge to exercise judgment, self-restraint, and conscience in my conduct in order to establish and maintain public confidence in the integrity of NAPO members and to preserve and encourage fair and equitable practices among all who are engaged in the profession of organizing.

4. How long will the job take to complete?
The answer to this question depends upon your goals and “wish list.” It also depends upon your availability as we work closely with you towards achieving your goals and wishes. Organizing Concepts and Designs works with you and for you to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

5. I’m embarrassed by my mess. Can I count on you to be discreet?
Part of our commitment to you as a NAPO member is to abide by their Code of Ethics (see #3 above) that is akin to the client privilege code under which doctors and lawyers operate. We will never divulge personal information about you. Additionally, you can always count on us never to judge you or your situation. We are all about discretion and we honor your privacy!

6. How much do you charge?
Our fees differ depending on what services you choose. For Organizing and Relocations we charge an hourly rate. However, we also offer packages, each of which has a standard fee, and includes a discounted rate. Estate Sales are all commission based.

7. Can I give your services as a gift?
Absolutely! It is important to note, however, that organizing is a very personal thing and can be a touchy issue. It would be best to make sure that the person you want to gift, is open to working with someone and isn’t insulted by the notion that you think they need to get organized. See the Gift Certificate that we offer below.

8. What is your privacy & confidentiality policy?
Confidentiality of all client information, both personal and professional is upheld at all times. We will never barter, sell or trade your information for any reason.

If you need help with an organizing project of any kind, give us a call. We’d love to help!

If You Made a New Year’s Resolution, You Gotta Read This!

If you’re like most people, you’ve either thought of or actually made a happy New Years Resolution. Believe it or not, organizing is right up there in the top 10 list of resolutions. I love that!

The problem is, and I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know, that most people don’t stay with it. Whether it’s losing weight, eating healthier, going to the gym or getting organized, which are all great resolutions, it’s difficult to actually stay on track.

So, whatever your New Year’s Resolution is, to make this year better than last, here’s some tips to help you stay on track:

1. Determine what the goal is. If losing weight is the goal, determine how much weight so there is a definitive goal.

2. Make a plan. You know the saying “a goal without a plan is just a wish”. Put time on your calendar to get it (whatever “it” is) done. Even if you only have a few minutes, it’s better than nothing and it’s still inching you towards the goal.

3. Break “it” down into actionable steps. If organizing is the goal, determine what area(s) you want to organize. Let’s say it’s organizing the garage. Instead of trying to tackle it all in one day, try first looking at the garage from the outside and determine what can be thrown away immediately (garbage, empty boxes, broken furniture). Then figure out what you want to donate and put those items together. Now that you’ve got more room in the garage to you can move on to the next step. It’s a process and does NOT need to get done in one day.

4. Find someone to help. If you have a significant other or a friend that can help, ASK FOR HELP! If you’re going for the garage, which is a big undertaking, maybe you can offer to help the person you ask, with something that they need to get done.

5. Make it fun. Put on some music. Set a timer to see how much you were able to accomplish during that time. Take before and after photos so you can see the progress. Reward yourself when you’re finished (but only when you’re finished).

6. Set a deadline. Figure out realistically how long this project should take. Make an appointment with yourself and put it on your calendar. If it’s on your calendar it’s more likely to get done.

I think that people make resolutions, especially New Years Resolutions, because they really want to accomplish something that they haven’t been able to do. Make 2016 the year you actually do it. It’s not that hard. It just takes some a goal, a plan and some action.

If you need help with an organizing project of any kind, give us a call. We’d love to help!

Wishing you all an incredible and prosperous happy new year 2017.

My Experience with a Professional Organizer

For those of you who read last month’s newsletter, you may recall that I needed the help of a Professional Organizer.   As a reminder, my house had been undergoing a major renovation and when everything was finished I needed to put “humpty dumpty back together again”.  iStock_000010631522XSmall

While I was organized before, during and even after the remodel, the thought of putting everything back into place by myself was daunting.  I work, I’m busy and I wanted it to get done in one day rather than days or weeks.   I just wanted to get it done!

A long time ago when I first started organizing a seasoned organizer told me that it would be a good exercise for me to hire another organizer to see what it feels like when someone else is touching your “stuff”, suggesting things to do with your “stuff”.

Well, I finally took the advice and hired a Professional Organizer. She happens to work with me often with my clients but it’s very different when you become the client.

This is what I learned:

1.   It’s not only okay to ask for help… it’s important. 

2.   It’s great that help is available for these types of situations.

3.   We all have different ways of doing things but, sometimes, another way is better.

4.   There are so many products and solutions out there that I either forgot or didn’t know about.  Now I have a few more things to share with  my clients.

5.    EVERYONE, even Professional Organizers, will need help at some time in their lives with some area in their life.

In my last newsletter, I promised to let you know how it all worked out.  IT WAS AWESOME!   My house is back together, I learned about new products and new ways of doing things that I might not have learned otherwise.  

If there’s a place in your house, office, storage unit that you  need help with, give us a call.   YOU DESERVE IT!

 

 

 

Help! I Need a Professional Organizer

I have been sending out this newsletter now for over 5 years.  For those of you who open it and read it, I hope you have gotten a sense of who I am, what I do and why.

For those of you who are new and have just recently signed up or, for whatever reason, decided to start reading, the readers digest version is:  I am a Professional Organizer and one of my specialties is residential organizing.  That covers everything from linen closets to bedrooms to playrooms to the garage.  There isn’t a place in a home that I can’t improve upon.  I help people get organized or “better” organized as the case may be.

One of the reasons I started Organizing Concepts and Designs (aka OCD) is because organizing comes naturally to me.  It’s just something I’ve always done for myself and for others.  I can walk into a room full of clutter or boxes and make sense of it all.  I can make that space more efficient.

Here’s the problem…my house is under construction, and it looks like a tornado hit it. There’s stuff everywhere.  Much as I tried to contain it prior to and during the construction, it was just impossible.   After living this way for a few weeks, I am now completely overwhelmed.  I don’t know where to start to put “humpty dumpty back together again”.  Why is it that I can do this for everyone else but I’m having trouble figuring this out for myself?   The answer is simple.  It’s never easy when it’s your stuff. 

So, even though I know exactly what to do I am going to hire a Professional Organizer to help me.   Here’s the questions and thoughts I had that led me to the decision to hire another P.O.:

1.  Why should I do it myself?

2.  Even if I can do it myself, it’s always better and quicker to have another set of hands.

3.  Maybe another P.O. will have some insight into organizing products that I haven’t thought of before.

4.  Perhaps I can organize things differently which might even be better than it was. 

5.  It would be great to have another perspective.

Bottom line is I’m going to give it a try.  I’ll let you know next time how that worked out. All I know is I can’t wait to get some order back in my life.

If you are asking yourself the same questions about your closet, a place in your house or your paperwork, give us a call.  WE CAN HELP!