Welcome to Get It Together Now, a new column about organizing your important records—for yourself and, eventually, for your loved ones.

If you’ve ever pitched in for someone who has become incapacitated, or if you’ve helped to wrap up an estate following a death, you know how hard it is. It’s hard emotionally to step in to the void left by that person, however temporarily. It can be hard spiritually to lose the companionship of one you love and the partnership of one you rely on. And, for all of us, it is downright exhausting to figure out what you need to do, when you have to do it, and where to find the information you need to get the job done.

Having shouldered that burden for another, you may wonder how you can make it easier for your loved ones when your time comes, when you are the one who goes. And it’s not just for the old or infirm; it’s for all of us—young adults, newlyweds, new parents, those planning travel or deployment, those facing illness, boomers and seniors.

In this column, we’ll discuss how you can start now, pulling together your important records and storing them securely. Your loved ones will have an easier time of it if they can find what you have when they need it. And in the meantime, you’ll enjoy improved organization and greater peace of mind.


Melanie Cullen is the author of Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won’t Have To (Nolo), a workbook/CD-ROM for preparing and organizing your important records—for yourself and for your loved ones. She is a management consultant with TerraSys Consulting, Inc. and serves on the Projects@Work editorial board. She holds an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.

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