Communicate with People in Your Care Network
Step 3 of Getting Your Loved One’s Affairs in Order
Getting organized might seem like something you should do on your own. However, if the task at hand is organizing your loved one’s affairs, you’ll most likely want to solicit input from others. Unless you have been intimately involved with all aspects of your loved one’s life over the last several years or even decades, it’s very likely that others will have knowledge that you’ll want to access. Thus far in our quest for organization, we have cleared out the clutter, created categories, and, hopefully, chosen one category to tackle first. A good next step would be to create a list of people who might be helpful in this process and reach out to them, letting them know what you’re trying to accomplish.
As you sort through piles of papers, files, accounts, etc., you will almost certainly come across things with which you are not familiar. For example, family members trying to get organized will often discover statements from bank or investment accounts they didn’t know about. When this happens, most people are tempted to rush off headlong in search of this “found money.” Unfortunately, reacting impulsively like this could be likened to tumbling down the rabbit hole. In a timeframe of a few decades, financial institutions often move, merge, or change names. People often go searching feverishly for accounts that end up being closed or already accounted for elsewhere under a different name.
In situations like the one just described, it’s very likely that someone in your immediate network could save you some time or effort. This is where the communication part of the process can be critical. If you come across something you don’t recognize or understand, reach out to your network and see if anyone can shed some light on the subject before rushing off on what may end up being a fool’s errand. Other family members, close friends, and professional advisors can all be helpful in the process of getting organized. As you connect with folks throughout this process, keep track of who has information on different categories. Depending on the size and complexity of your loved one’s estate, you might end up with different working groups associated with each category. Perhaps more importantly, the task of getting organized will be less overwhelming if you involve others in the process.