BOSTON — If you’re like most people, you probably wish you were better organized when it comes to your important financial and family documents. Where are last year’s tax filings? The family’s birth certificates? Property titles? For many, the answer to these questions may be a somewhat less-than-resounding, “somewhere in the filing cabinet...I think?” Fortunately, summer is the perfect time of year to start doing something about this situation and the good news is, according to a recent survey conducted by online storage provider FidSafe, doing so can also bring with it greater peace of mind.
Whether it includes clearing out your bills and receipts, cleaning out closets of unnecessary clutter or sitting at your desk to prepare and organize your family’s most important documents, the fact is that paperwork piles up over time, and every household could benefit from some much-needed spring—or summer—cleaning. According to the experts at FidSafe, locating and storing critical documents, such as a will, health care proxy, life insurance policies, tax filings, property titles, and marriage and birth certificates should be at the top of everyone’s to-do list; and it doesn’t have to be complicated. The immediate benefit: taking action now can help ensure essential documents are easily accessible if and when you ever need them.
“While getting organized is one project on most people’s checklist, many find the task overwhelming and put it off as a result,” said Andrew Peterson, vice president and product manager for FidSafe, which offers a free electronic digital storage service that was introduced by retirement leader Fidelity Investments® one year ago. FidSafe utilizes Fidelity’s state-of-the-art technologies and security protocols to keep consumers’ information safe with two factor authentication and end-to-end data encryption. Furthermore, FidSafe users can designate one trusted person to receive access to their documents after they pass away.
FidSafe experts recommend breaking the task of organizing your financial life into five manageable steps:
- First, identify which documents you need to keep. Not all documents are created equal and sorting through what can be disposed versus what needs to be retained can be a rewarding experience in and of itself. To help sort through the clutter, Fidelity has created checklists that help people organize key personal documents needed at different moments in life, such as planning for a wedding or the birth of a child.
- Separate your essential documents by category. To get a proper sense of what you have on hand (and what you need to secure), it can be helpful to categorize everything. Those categories can include financial management (bank statements, credit card information, loan records), income tax information, estate documents, and home records. (Click here for a complete list of ten categories to separate your documents into.)
- Identify who will maintain and update the records as time goes by. The job of family record keeper doesn’t have to be the responsibility of just one person in the household. Perhaps one person in the family is responsible for the day-to-day financial tasks (such as paying the bills) and another is responsible for the longer-term finances (such as planning for retirement). Break things down by area of oversight.
- Figure out where to store everything. Whether it’s a safety deposit box at the bank, a locked, fireproof box in the household, a filing cabinet or the use of an online app, having a centralized location for your essential documents can help avoid needless anxiety in the event the unexpected occurs. For those looking for a safe, electronic storage location, FidSafe provides a secure digital place to store, access and share all of your most important documents.
- Finally, communicate with family members or a friend what you’ve done, so they know where to locate important documents as needed, and review your documents periodically. Having an effective system in place cannot exist in a vacuum. People need to know where everything is and that material needs to stay up-to-date, as your needs change over time.
“The biggest benefit to getting your financial and family documents in order is the comfort you’ll find in knowing where your most important files are stored and that you have easy access to them,” said Peterson. “In fact, a recent survey of FidSafe users found that after uploading their essential documents to FidSafe, two out of three respondents felt more organized and better prepared to find critical documents in the event of an emergency.1 That enhanced peace of mind can be worth the time spent locating electronic versions of the documents and organizing them within FidSafe.”
Looking for a place to store everything? FidSafe can help.
Opening a FidSafe account is quick and easy. A mobile app, how-to tips, planning checklists, and informational videos are available online to guide consumers, who can upload documents to a FidSafe account using any home or office scanner or simply by taking a photo using a mobile device and then uploading it into FidSafe at a convenient time. All documents are kept private and confidential and only the owner of the account can choose when and how to share with family members or trusted advisors.
- Simply take a picture using the camera software on your mobile device and then upload it to FidSafe at a convenient time
- Store 5GB in a secure, free online account
- Access anytime and anywhere with a web browser or the iOS app
For additional information on FidSafe, visit www.fidsafe.com.
About Fidelity Investments
Fidelity’s mission is to inspire better futures and deliver better outcomes for the customers and businesses we serve. With assets under administration of $6.2 trillion, including managed assets of $2.3 trillion as of June 30, 2017, we focus on meeting the unique needs of a diverse set of customers: helping more than 26 million people invest their own life savings, 23,000 businesses manage employee benefit programs, as well as providing more than 12,500 financial advisory firms with investment and technology solutions to invest their own clients’ money. Privately held for 70 years, Fidelity employs more than 40,000 associates who are focused on the long-term success of our customers. For more information about Fidelity Investments, visit https://www.fidelity.com/about.