Skip to Content

Practical California Estate Planning: Organize Your Documents

family around dinner table

Every year, millions of dollars worth of financial assets are collected by state government treasuries from deceased state citizens. This often occurs because insurance policy benefits go unclaimed and rightful inheritors and property owners go unidentified. Money, possessions, and family heirlooms end up not going to intended loved ones, which can be absolutely tragic. To work hard your entire life, only to have the things you labored for not go to those you love, is a very upsetting thought. That is why organizing all your documentation is crucial.

Start with the Broad Categories of Information

The first step in getting organized is to decide on all the important categories involved with your after-death intentions and asset distributions. You want to make sure you have written down each area of importance and exactly what you want done.

Important estate planning categories include but are not limited to:

  • Funeral plans, arrangements, and death notification requests
  • Insurance policies
  • Wills and living trusts
  • Deeds to property or titles to vehicles
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Pensions and retirement accounts
  • Bank, money market, and mutual fund accounts
  • Items in safes, safety deposit boxes, storage houses, warehouses, storage facilities, or other hidden secure locations
  • Business or organization ownership documentation
  • Family history, photographs, heirlooms, and other irreplaceable
  • Miscellaneous possessions such as farm animals, pets, prized collections, etc.

Then Tackle Your Method for Organizing the Information

Once you have your categories selected and your desires clearly written out, you will want to pull any and all documentation and paperwork pertaining to these categories and organize them appropriately. You may want a physical filing system, such as shelves or filing cabinets. You may choose to have stacks of papers or boxes designated for each category as a pre-organization. Many people now also prefer to have a digital organization of all documents by scanning documents and having PDFs filed in a digital folder system. Some people even back up their digital organization onto a separate hard drive or thumb drive. The manner of organization is up to you.

Organize in a way that is Easy to Understand and Search Through

Many people make the mistake of thinking that simply putting all the documents in one area should be enough, but this is often not the case. It is also very helpful to organize those documents alphabetically or by date. This is highly recommended, as it will make searching easier, and will reduce the chance of important information being missed. You may also want to consider putting sticky notes on especially important documents with any note that you think would be helpful for those going through your documents. Thoroughness and organization are your friends. And don’t forget to make your filing system reasonably easy to access.

Contact a Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorney for a Consultation About Document Organization in California

You deserve to have peace of mind about whether your loved ones will be taken care of after you are gone. The best way to plan for your future, and the future of your close family members or other loved ones, is to speak with an estate planning lawyer about your specific circumstances and financial situation. The experienced California estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman assist clients with wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. We represent clients in Northridge, North Hills, Chatsworth, San Fernando Valley, and throughout Southern California. Call us anytime at (818) 892-7093 or email us to schedule a confidential consultation. Our main office is located at 8912 Haskell Ave, North Hills, CA 91343.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

Share To:

Get Started

Schedule A Virtual Consultation

Contact Darrell C. Harriman today by filling out the form below or call (818) 892-7093.

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.
  • By submitting, you agree to be contacted about your request & other information using automated technology. Message frequency varies. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel. Acceptable Use Policy
  • Practicing Since 1980

    I have over four decades of helping my clients through the legal process.

  • Personalized, Responsive Service

    I'll craft a personalized strategy that fits the specific needs of your case.

  • Clear Answers In Plain Language

    Simplifying complex legal issues enables you to make informed decisions.

  • Proactive Representation

    As a seasoned attorney, I work to anticipate any issues you may face in your case.