Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won't Have To

Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won't Have To

by Melanie Cullen, Shae Irving J.D.

Paperback(Eighth Edition)

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Everything you need to get organized

This workbook provides a complete system for structuring and organizing your information and documents into a records binder. For each topic, you will find helpful content, rich resources, and step-by-step instructions.

Also, available: A companion Binder & Tab Set, by Melanie Cullen. To purchase, search for "get it together binder and tab set."
Do your loved ones know where to find your life insurance policies, online banking passwords, real estate deeds, or even your will?

If you’re like a lot of people, you keep important information—from the whereabouts of family heirlooms to online passwords to automatic bill-pay details—in your head or stashed in the odd desk drawer. Unfortunately, this disorganization will likely cause hassles for those who someday take care of you or your estate.

Get It Together provides an easy, straightforward method to help you and others keep track of:

  • secured places and passwords
  • employment records
  • insurance policies
  • real estate records
  • tax records
  • retirement accounts
  • estate planning documents
  • funeral arrangements
  • letters to loved ones

This updated 8th edition is a guide to gathering records, an organizer for you, and a road map for your survivors.

All forms are downloadable through a link printed in the book.

Also, available: A companion Binder & Tab Set, by Melanie Cullen. To purchase, search for "get it together binder and tab set."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781413325669
Publisher: NOLO
Publication date: 09/30/2018
Edition description: Eighth Edition
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 73,055
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 10.80(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Melanie Cullen holds an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. She has served in executive management and business consulting in support of technology, distribution operations management, and strategic management.

Melanie enjoys the blessings of Get It Together , relying on her own personal planner for many years. She rests easy knowing that its road map will bless her loved ones when the time comes. She wishes the same for you and yours.

Shae Irving has written and edited for Nolo since 1994, specializing in estate planning and family law issues. She has written or co-written books and software, including Prenuptial Agreements: How to Write a Fair and Lasting Contract, Living Wills and Powers of Attorney for California, Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won't Have To, and Nolo's Quicken WillMaker Plus software. Shae graduated from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.

Read an Excerpt


Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.
-- Danny Kaye, entertainer and UNICEF ambassador (1913-1987)

This book will help you get organized for your own benefit and, eventually, for the benefit of your loved ones. You'll use it to complete a planner that contains everything your caretakers or survivors need to know, including critical personal, legal, and financial information.

Your planner will be a thorough and easy-to-follow guide for your family and close friends. With your planner in hand, your loved ones can more easily step in and take care of things if you become incapacitated or when you die.
Who Needs to Plan Ahead?

If you picked up this book, you're probably feeling the need to get organized. Or perhaps you want to help someone else put things in order -- maybe an elderly parent or an ailing friend. Any adult can benefit from making a planner, even those without a lot of money or property, but some people might find the process particularly useful.

As we age, most of us feel some concern about what would happen if we became ill and unable to make our own medical or financial decisions. And we wonder how our loved ones will take care of things after we die. If you're elderly, making a planner can smooth the way for your caretakers and survivors. You can gather together your health care wishes, financial plans, legal documents, and important personal information, and arrange these things in a format that will make sense to others. Those close to you will likely view your planner as a small miracle -- and a wonderful gift.
People Facing a Serious Illness

If you areill and concerned that at some point you may no longer be able to care for yourself, making a planner can help you find some peace of mind. While you're able, you can document your wishes for medical care, name someone to take care of your finances, write down what you want to have happen to your property and your body after death, and organize personal information and important paperwork for your family and friends. This book is designed to help you organize things a little bit at a time, with help if necessary; you can pick and choose the issues that are most important to you.
Family Members and Other Caretakers

If you are caring for an older or ailing person -- such as a parent, grandparent, or friend -- you're probably grappling with both strong emotions and lots of practical tasks. You may find it useful to help your family member or friend complete a planner. It will probably be a great relief to have personal wishes, financial information, and important legal paperwork at your fingertips.

If you have been named as an agent for health care or financial matters, executor of a will, or successor trustee of a living trust, a good planner will provide the framework that you need to carry out your eventual responsibilities in an orderly, informed way.

If you're using this book to help someone else make a planner, keep in mind that the instructions are written primarily for people who are making planners for themselves -- but there's no reason you can't use the instructions to help another person through the process.
Parents and Young Adults

If you are young, you may want to use this book to get off to a good start -- getting and staying organized. This book will show you how to understand and keep track of your important records, providing a solid foundation for years to come.

If you have young children, this book can help you ensure that they are provided for if something happens to you. It can alert you to the important documents you need and show you how to organize important information so your wishes for your children will be carried out if the need arises.
People Planning Travel or Deployment

When we're leaving town -- especially if we're leaving family for an extended period -- many of us think about what might happen if we were injured, or worse, while away from home. This book can help you get organized so that, when you leave, you will know that your affairs and records are in order and will be easily available to those who may need to step in.
How It Works

Similar to income tax or school exam materials, this book contains both instructions and companion forms. These two parts of the book are the guide and the planner:

* The guide. The first part of the book is your instruction manual. Each chapter describes a topic and shows you how to pull together the information and documents you will need.
* The planner. The second part of the book contains the forms where you'll actually record your information. If you prefer to use a computer, the book includes a CD-ROM with all the forms you'll need to create your planner.

To make your work easier, the guide and planner follow the same chapter sequence. For example, the first chapter in the guide helps you write a letter to your survivors, and that letter is also the first section of the planner.

The sequence of your planner is designed to create an easy, ready reference for your survivors. The planner begins with the materials that your loved ones will need immediately if you become incapacitated or die, and progresses to information they will need over time. But don't think you have to tackle the most daunting tasks right away. Rather than completing your planner from front to back, you can skip ahead and complete some of the simplest sections first. (You'll learn more about this in the next chapter, which contains specific suggestions and tips for completing your planner.)

You may want to take a moment now to page through the entire book, familiarizing yourself with the layout and the various topics.

Table of Contents

Completing Your Planner
1. Letter to Loved Ones
2. Instructions
3. Biographical Information
4. Children
5. Others Who Depend on Me
6. Pets and Livestock
7. Employment
8. Business Interests
9. Memberships
10. Service Providers
11. Health Care Directives
12. Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
13. Organ or Body Donation
14. Burial or Cremation
15. Funeral and Memorial Services
16. Obituary
17. Will and Trust
18. Insurance
19. Bank and Brokerage Accounts
20. Retirement Plans and Pensions
21. Government Benefits
22. Credit Cards and Debts
23. Secured Places and Passwords
24. Taxes
25. Real Estate
26. Vehicles
27. Other Income and Personal Property
28. Other Information
A: Using the eForms
B: Lawyers and Other Experts

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

..." Provides a guide to collecting and organizing important records, and how to store and protect them, for readers and their family members. " Reference & Research Book News


When my mother was sick, she and I discussed a few important items: her final arrangements; her insurance agent, attorney, and financial advisor; the location of her safe deposit box. Although sparse, these bits of information were precious to me when the time came. Soon after she passed, I created a personal planner with my own important information and records—the basis for Get It Together.

Get It Together is a guide and resource to help you create your own personal planner—an organizer for you and an eventual road map for your loved ones. It covers 28 topics, including you, your family, your work endeavors; your assets and liabilities; your estate planning and final wishes. It provides a framework for newlyweds and parents, for those planning travel or deployment, for seniors—really, for all mortals.

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Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won't Have To 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
MCSquared More than 1 year ago
Recently, the AARP magazine printed an article about the need and desirability of organizing financial and personal accounts for survivors. Having done this for a disorganized Uncle, the advice hit home. AARP has their own guide (Checklist for my Family), however, I decided to research other guides. An on-line Customer Review mentioned "Get It Together" and I'm indebted to that reviewer. I went to my local Barnes and Noble (Livonia MI) to look through a copy of Get It Together. I found it better met my needs. It is comprehensive, easy to navigate, and written in layman's narrative that is easy to understand and follow. Get It Together contains worksheets which can be used for draft and/or final copy. Purchasers also have the ability to download the forms in Rich Text Format and a binder with preprinted tabs also is available. The Author, Melanie Cullen, immediately replied to an email question which I found remarkable. I recommend Get It Together to everyone for your own plans and loved ones for whom you may be a caregiver.