Articles and Columns

Carissa Giebel column: Getting financial affairs in order

Feb. 24, 2014 |

No matter what life stage you are in, or how old you are, it should always be a priority to have your affairs in order. Accidents can happen to anyone at anytime, and if something would happen to you, your family and loved ones will be grateful for the time you took to organize and plan your personal and financial affairs.

It’s important that someone knows where to find your important papers and information they may need in the event of an emergency or death. If they are in a file box, a drawer, a safe deposit box, or somewhere else, make sure someone can find them.

You don’t necessarily have to share the details, but at least share the location so they can be found in case of an emergency. If you have a safe deposit box, make sure someone else can access that if necessary.

Make sure you have powers of attorney in order for both financial and medical decisions. It’s a good idea to make sure your doctor has a copy of your health care power of attorney, and possibly even the agent named.

If you are comfortable, give a copy of your financial power of attorney to the agent you name in that legal document. If not, at least inform your loved ones where to find the document in case of an emergency.

Your will or trust should be in a safe place that can also be found, as well as statements or some documentation from all of your accounts, such as life insurance, bank accounts, certificates of deposit, annuities, retirement accounts, stock, bonds, investment accounts, pension, etc. Your beneficiaries should be up to date and include the beneficiaries’ current address and contact information.

Also include contact information for professionals you trust, such as your doctor, lawyer, banker, financial adviser and insurance agent (life, health care, homeowners, and auto). It will also be helpful to have the deeds for real estate and titles for vehicles.

If you have any loans or creditors, keep a record of that information, as well as any other payments you are making on a regular basis (phone, cable, internet, utilities, etc.).

If one spouse is in charge of all or most of the affairs, take the time to discuss the affairs with each other in case the other would ever need to take over. Each spouse should know, at the very least, where to find important documents, what assets there are, and what debts and payments need to be made.

If you have any online or digital accounts, make sure your login information can be accessed by someone else. In case of an emergency, keep a list of your usernames and passwords in a safe place. Discuss your memorial wishes with your loved ones and leave any written instructions and copies of any arrangements you have already made.

Your family and loved ones will be grateful for the little extra time you took to keep your financial and personal affairs in order, making their lives a little easier during a difficult time.

Carissa Giebel is an estate planning attorney and partner at Legacy Law Group, LLC. She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or (920) 560-4651.

Email Us

Green Bay Press Gazette
Estate Planning Survey
Contact Us