Whether it’s around the corner or years away, retirement is an exciting time of life to think about and plan for. There will be new opportunities for recreation, volunteering, and travel. To enjoy this newfound freedom to the fullest, it’s important to have peace of mind that all your information is organized and easily accessible – both for convenience and in case of unexpected situations or emergencies. Retirement planning often focuses on finances, but that’s just one part of what’s needed to be truly ready to enjoy these years. Another task that should be at the top of your list for a stress-free retirement is safely storing and sharing key documents.
Here are ten types of documents to consider when preparing for retirement:
- Social Security Benefit Application. Various documents are required to initiate benefits including your Social Security record, birth certificate, and last year’s W-2 forms. While the paper originals must be sent, it is highly recommended that you keep digital copies in case should anything gets lost in the process.
- Pension-Related Documents . Your summary plan description and individual benefit statement will identify how much income your plan will provide, as well as what happens if the primary pension holder passes away.
- Investment-Related Information . Gather copies of your account statements and the withdrawal requirements associated with each. Some accounts have strict mandatory withdrawal requirements or are tax-deferred, while others are not.
- Tax Returns and Other Tax Information . During retirement, filing and paying taxes may be more complex since taxes aren’t automatically withheld from paychecks. Retirees may need to pay quarterly estimated taxes.
- Property Titles, Homeowner’s Insurance, and Home Inventory Information . During retirement, people travel more and many purchase a second home. It’s important to store titles to homes, boats, and other property, as well as current homeowner’s insurance documents and an inventory of personal property in an easily accessible place. If problems arise, it will be easier to file insurance claims.
- Account Login Information . Since so many accounts now offer online access, it’s not uncommon to have many usernames and passwords. To keep track, you may want to maintain a document with this information or use a password software program that can be accessed remotely. FidSafe provides a template to record website username and password information that you can view when on the go.
- End-of-Life Documents . Keeping documents handy, such as wills or trusts, simplifies matters for heirs in the event of one’s death. To minimize stress for family members, many people purchase cemetery plots in advance, document burial and funeral instructions, and write “love notes” to children and grandchildren. Organizing and sharing this information with lawyers or family members is the best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out.
- Life Insurance Policies and Beneficiary Designation Forms . Keep current copies of life insurance policies and designated account beneficiaries, as well as insurance company contact information.
- Health Insurance Paperwork . During retirement, health insurance may come from multiple providers. Save benefit summaries, contact information, and policy information related to Medicare, insurance policies from former employers, Medicare supplemental policies, and long-term-care policies.
- Documents Needed in Case of Incapacitation . No one likes to think about incapacitation, but it’s important to plan for it. Keep documents such as durable powers of attorney, healthcare powers of attorney, and advanced medical directives in an easily accessible place. Maintaining contact information for bankers, lawyers, and tax advisors will also be helpful for caregivers and other responsible parties.
Once you have your documents organized, consider storing them in a secure digital archive. One of the major benefits of digital archives is that documents can be retrieved anytime and from anywhere with Internet access. In addition, you have full control of what you share and with whom. It’s safe, easy, and secure, which means you can enjoy retirement without stress, no matter where in the world you are.