Get It Together

Organize Your Records So Your Family Won't Have To

Everything you need to get organized

Organize your records and make it easy for your family to track down your important paperwork with this step-by-step guide.  Get It Together will show you how to keep track of:

  • estate planning documents
  • final arrangements
  • tax records

Includes all of the help you need to organize your records for yourself and your family.

Available as part of Nolo's Executor's Bundle

  • Product Details
  • 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 book is organized to make the process straightforward. In the first half, you’ll find the pages to create your personal planner. In the second half, you’ll find step-by-step instructions and helpful resources.

    “Offers a detailed, step-by-step process for gathering records and key documents and organizing them for future use.”—Sacramento Bee

    “Will prove indispensable in a tumultuous time.”—

    Number of Pages
    Included Forms


    This book contains 28 blank tables where you can organize information about the following topics:

    • Letter to Loved Ones
    • Instructions for Loved Ones
    • Biographical Information
    • Children
    • Others Who Depend on Me
    • Pets and Livestock
    • Employment
    • Business Interests
    • Memberships
    • Service Providers
    • Health Care Directives
    • Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
    • Organ or Body Donation
    • Burial or Cremation
    • Funeral and Memorial Services
    • Obituary
    • Will and Trust
    • Insurance
    • Bank and Brokerage Accounts
    • Retirement Plans and Pensions
    • Government Benefits
    • Credit Cards and Debts
    • Secured Places and Passwords
    • Taxes
    • Real Estate
    • Vehicles
    • Other Income and Personal Property
    • Other Information
  • About the Author
    • Melanie Cullen

      Melanie Cullen holds an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. Following 20 years in corporate management, she is now a consultant in management and technology. Melanie lives in Davis, California.

  • Table of Contents
  • Your Get It Together Companion

    Completing Your Personal Planner

    • Who Needs a Planner?
    • How It Works
    • Seven Steps to Preparing Your Planner

    PART I: The Planner

    Cover Page
    Table of Contents
    1. Instructions
    2. Letter to Loved Ones
    3. Biographical Information
    4. Children
    5. Others Who Depend on Me
    6. Pets and Livestock
    7. Employment
    8. Business Interests
    9. Memberships and Communities
    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

    PART II: The Guide

    1.  Instructions

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Updating Your Instructions

    2. Letter to Loved Ones

    • Completing Your Letter
    • Alternatives to the Letter Template
    • Where to Get Help

    3. Biographical Information

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Locating Vital Records
    • Locating Military, Citizenship, and Social Security Records

    4. Children

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Arranging Care for Children
    • Where to Get Help

    5. Others Who Depend on Me

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Whose Care to Include

    6. Pets and Livestock

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Arranging Care for Pets
    • Where to Get Help

    7. Employment

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Why Include Employment Information

    8. Business Interests

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Estate Planning for Small Business Owners
    • Where to Get Help

    9. Memberships and Communities

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Types of Memberships and Communities
    • Managing Memberships
    • Where to Get Help

    10. Service Providers

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Which Service Providers to Include

    11. Health Care Directives

    • Completing Your Planner
    • How Health Care Directives Work
    • Where to Get Help

    12. Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

    • Completing Your Planner
    • How Durable Powers of Attorney for Finances Work
    • Where to Get Help

    13. Organ or Body Donation

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Do You Want to Be a Donor?
    • Where to Get Help

    14. Burial or Cremation

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Burial or Cremation?
    • Related Decisions
    • Where to Get Help

    15. Funeral and Memorial Services

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Types of Memorial Services
    • Where to Get Help

    16. Obituary

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Writing and Publishing an Obituary
    • Where to Get Help

    17. Will and Trust

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Which Estate Planning Documents Do You Need?
    • An Overview of Wills and Trusts
    • Choosing Your Executor or Successor Trustee
    • Avoiding Probate
    • Where to Get Help

    18. Insurance

    • Completing Your Planner
    • What Kind of Insurance Do You Need?
    • Where to Get Help

    19. Bank and Brokerage Accounts

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Making Your Accounts Accessible
    • Avoiding Probate for Bank and Brokerage Accounts
    • Where to Get Help

    20. Retirement Plans and Pensions

    • Completing Your Planner
    • About Retirement Plans
    • Where to Get Help

    21. Government Benefits

    • Completing Your Planner
    • About Social Security
    • Where to Get Help

    22. Credit Cards and Debts

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Evaluating and Reducing Debt
    • Where to Get Help

    23. Secured Places and Passwords

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Using a Password Manager
    • Who Has Access to Your Safe Deposit Box?

    24. Taxes

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Tax Basics
    • Estate and Inheritance Taxes
    • Where to Get Help

    25. Real Estate

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Ways to Own Property
    • Special Rules for Married Couples
    • Where to Get Help

    26. Vehicles

    • Completing Your Planner
    • Leaving Your Vehicles to Others
    • Where to Get Help

    27. Other Income and Personal Property

    • Completing Your Planner
    • What to Include

    28. Other Information


    A: Using the eForms

    • Downloading the Files
    • Reviewing the Files
    • Using the Files

    B: Lawyers and Other Experts

    • What Kind of Expert Do You Need?
    • Finding an Expert
    • Working With an Expert
    • Making a Fee Agreement


  • Sample Chapter
  • Completing Your Personal Planner

    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex…. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.
    —albert einstein (1879–1955)


    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 personal planner that contains all of your important information and records. And when you become incapacitated or die, rest assured that your caretakers or survivors will have an easy-to-follow guide. They will be able to more easily step in and take care of things.

    Who Needs a Planner?

    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. Any adult can benefit from making a planner, even those without a lot of money or property.

    Making Legal Documents
    In the guide, you’ll find lots of material to help you make the important legal documents you may need: health care directives, powers of attorney, your will, a living trust, and more. The guide also shows you how to add information about these documents to your planner. But it doesn’t contain legal forms for you to fill out. Instead, you’ll find basic information about each document and suggestions for how to prepare them—either on your own or with a lawyer’s help.



    Every adult can take comfort from having important information and documents in one place. It is gratifying to retrieve information or documents easily. There is peace in knowing you can “grab and go” in an emergency. And it is satisfying at any age to have a comprehensive grasp of your information, records, wishes, and plans.

    Further, some people will find the process particularly useful.

    Young Adults and Parents

    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 help you 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 alerts you to the important documents you need and shows you how to organize information so your wishes 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. This book can help you get organized so that you will know that your affairs and records are in order and will be easily available to those who may need to step in.

    Working With a Parent

    It’s easy to use this book to help your parent (or another person) to get organized. Simply follow the steps outlined in this introductory chapter. As your parent is able, share the effort with them.

    If your parent doesn’t want to participate, these tips may help:

    • Encourage collaboration. Consider inviting a trusted sibling or friend to join the conversation. Calmly, kindly, and clearly state that you want to help, for today’s ease and tomorrow’s comfort. Emphasize that you and your parent have a long-term shared objective that rests on working together now.
    • Promote peace of mind. Let your parent know that your goal for them is peace of mind. By organizing their documents and wishes, you can make your parent’s life easier now—and also if (or when) you must step in to help with medical decisions or scheduling home repairs.
    • Schedule ahead. Set “work dates” in advance, helping your parent share control and, importantly, maintain dignity. Aging brings loss of control, which may be threatening, frightening, and just plain sad for your parent. Make sure your parent feels valued as a partner in the work. Consider lightening the emotional load by scheduling a shared meal or an outing following your work together.
    • Keep in touch. Make regular contact with your parent between organizing sessions. Call or write with your thoughts, suggestions, and questions. Your contact will keep the effort rolling and help build trust and camaraderie.


    People Facing a Serious Illness

    While you’re able, you can document your wishes for medical care, name someone to take care of your finances, and organize other personal information and important paperwork for your family and friends. This book is designed to help you organize things step by step; you can choose the issues that are most important to you.


    As we age, most of us feel some concern about what will happen when we become unable to make our own medical or financial decisions. We wonder how our loved ones will take care of things after we die. Those close to you will view your planner as a small miracle—and a wonderful gift.

    How It Works

    This book contains forms and instructions. These two parts of the book are the planner and the guide:

    • The planner. The first part of the book contains forms where you’ll record your information, either on the printed page or using a computer. (See Appendix A for step-by-step help with downloading and using the eForms.)
    • The guide. The second part of the book is your as-needed instruction manual. Each chapter provides direction for completing your planner, more information about the topic, and additional resources.

    The planner and guide follow the same sequence. For example, Section 6 in the planner outlines information and wishes regarding Pets and Livestock, and Chapter 6 of the guide covers the same topic.

    The planner is sequenced for the convenience of the people who will use it when you are sick or after your death. It starts with Section 1 Instructions, a roadmap for your loved ones. The Section 1 checklist will lead your loved ones to the information they need when they need it.

    However, while your loved ones will follow a prescribed sequence, you are free to complete your personal planner in whatever order makes the most sense to you. Here is a simple approach that can help.

    Couples: Make Separate Planners. If you’re married or partnered, you and your mate should prepare separate planners—or one planner with separate sections for each of you. While some sections will contain shared information or documents (such as information about your home and joint bank accounts), most sections are distinctly personal. Preparing an individual planner—or individual sections within the same planner—will make it easier for loved ones to manage your unique affairs when the time comes.

    Seven Steps to Preparing Your Planner

    Completing your planner need not overwhelm you. Some of the topics may not even apply to you, and you can skip those with a simple “Does not apply”! As to the rest, take them one at a time.

    While you may be able to fill in some blanks with information you have or know, there may be times when you’ll have to stop and handle a more complex task. For example, you might take a break to:

    • track down paperwork—birth certificates, military discharge papers, insurance policies, and the like
    • prepare or update estate planning documents, such as your health care directives, power of attorney for finances, will, or living trust, or
    • complete an organ donor card or arrange to donate your body to a medical school.

    Here are seven steps to help minimize your hassle and stress.

    Choosing Paper or Electronic Files

    Should you write on paper or use electronic files to fill out your planner? You have options: You can use the workbook pages in this book; print blank PDF pages; or type directly into the RTF files. Choose the option that feels most comfortable, so that you can get started with few obstacles. You can always start with paper, then later move your work to your computer.

    Using the planner in the book. If you wish to work with paper and don’t mind tearing out pages from the book, you can remove the perforated planner pages, photocopy two additional sets, and then use one set for a messy draft, one for your tidy final version, and one for a future update (or additional photocopying).

    Using the PDF version of the planner. If you wish to keep your book intact but still work with paper and pencil, you can download and print the book’s planner in PDF. (The file is named Planner.pdf.) This file contains the same planner you’ll find printed in this book, but in electronic form. You can print it as many times as you’d like (but you can’t type into or edit the PDF file).

    Typing onto the RTFs. If you prefer to use your computer to enter your information, you can download and use the RTF files with your word processing software.

    For more help downloading and using the electronic files, see Appendix A, Using the eForms.


    STEP 1: Get Started

    Familiarize yourself with the layout of this book and with the process of preparing your planner:

    • First, finish reading this introductory chapter, “Completing Your Personal Planner.”
    • Take a few minutes to examine your book—a few planner sections in the first half and the corresponding guide sections in the back. For example, look over Section 6 Pets and Livestock in the planner, then scan Chapter 6 “Pets and Livestock” in the guide at back.
    • Also take a look at Appendixes A and B at the end of the book.

    Pace yourself. Help yourself succeed by setting aside two-hour windows to work on your planner. Pacing yourself this way will help you make progress without becoming discouraged. On average, readers take twelve hours to complete a personal planner.

    STEP 2: Prepare Planner Pages

    You have three clear options for creating your planner pages.

    Option 1. If you will use the forms printed in the book—to either complete by hand or with a typewriter—remove the perforated pages from this book. Make two full sets of photocopies.

    In STEP 5, you will use one set as worksheets where you can make notes—and make a mess if you need to. You’ll still have a clean set of pages ready for your final draft and a reserve set for future use.

    Option 2. If instead you’re going to print out the electronic forms—to either complete by hand or with a typewriter—download the eForms to your computer. You will use the file named Planner.pdf for printing. (See Appendix A for step-by-step help.) Go ahead and try printing a few sections now, to make sure printing won’t be a problem for you later.

    Option 3. If you plan to use your computer to type directly into the forms, download the eForms to your computer. (See Appendix A for step-by-step help.) You will use the 29 RTF files as you work on your computer. Go ahead and open one or two files now to familiarize yourself with these files. You may also want to familiarize yourself with the password protection feature of your word processing software.

    Learn more about downloading and using the eForms. You can find step-by-step help with the eForms—the electronic files for each of the planner sections—in Appendix A following the guide at the end of the book.

    Keep an eye out for the binder icon. As you read through the guide, you’ll see binder icons like this one. These tips will provide suggestions to help you organize and file related documents and other materials in your binder.

    STEP 3: Get a Planner Binder

    These planner materials have been designed for use with a binder, with tabs and storage pockets, so that you can keep many of your important materials with your planner. To set up your planner in this way, here’s what you’ll need:

    • binder (at least 2")
    • tab divider pages (labeled, one for each of the 28 sections), and
    • as needed, pocket divider pages, plastic sleeves, or sheet protector pages (for inserting documents or materials), and plastic binder pouches (those made to hold pencils and pens, which you can use for storing small, irregular items, such as your passport, credit cards, or keys).

    Order a ready-made binder for your planner. To make it easy to organize your planner, you can order the Get It Together Binder & Tab Set. The sturdy three-inch binder comes with tab dividers for the 28 planner sections. For a complete description and ordering information, see the ad in the back of this book.

    STEP 4: Figure Out Secure Storage

    Once you begin to assemble your planner (STEP 5), it will contain significant personal details and confidential information. Now’s the time to decide where you’ll store it. The best place to store your planner is in a waterproof, fireproof home safe.

    You may be tempted to store your planner in a safe deposit box or with a lawyer. Remember, though, that you’ll want easy access to your planner so you can refer to the information frequently and, over time, keep it up to date. Also, eventually, your loved ones will need immediate access to your planner upon your incapacitation or on your death. Storing your planner in a safe deposit box or with a lawyer will limit access to your planner until at least the first business day following your incapacity or death.

    Safe deposit boxes can be particularly tricky: Even if you have a co-owner on the box, or if you have previously arranged safe deposit box access for a trusted friend or relative, access to the box—and to your planner—may be delayed until well after your survivors need it. (See Section 23, Secured Places and Passwords, for more information about accessing safe deposit boxes.)

    If you have concerns about the security of your planner in a home safe, or if a home safe is not available to you, you can store the materials in any location that feels safe to you.

    Keep in mind, however, that you need ready access for your frequent use. And when the time comes, your survivors will need some of the information immediately:

    • Sections 1 through 16. Your survivors will need the first half of your planner immediately upon your incapacity or death. The information contained in this first part of your planner is sensitive, but does not include information about your assets or how to access them. Make sure you keep these first sections within easy reach.
    • Sections 17 through 28. Your survivors won’t need the most sensitive information in your planner until at least the first business day after your incapacity or death. If you don’t have a secure location in your home, you can think about storing these sections in a safe deposit box, with a lawyer, or with a close relative or friend who has a home safe—keeping in mind the caveats mentioned above.

    Essentially, how you store your planner depends on your own options and comfort level. Do what feels best for you.

    Stop right there. Be certain that you have completed STEPS 1 through 4 before you move on to the next step. You want to be prepared with your pages, binder, and secure storage before you begin collecting or recording sensitive information.

    STEP 5: Complete Each Section

    Now that you’ve figured out the pages, binder, and secure storage, you are ready to start completing your planner. Start by dispatching the simplest, most straightforward topics— unless you have an urgent need to prepare your planner. If this is your situation, follow the outline just below in “If Time is Short.”

    If Time Is Short
    If it’s urgent that you complete your planner quickly, there are certain topics on which you’ll want to focus. Here’s a list of critical topics you should try to cover:
    Section Topic
    4 Children
    5 Others Who Depend on Me
    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
    17 Will and Trust
    18 Insurance
    19 Bank and Brokerage Accounts
    23 Secured Places and Passwords


    As you create your planner, feel free to skip around from one section to another. By doing so, you’ll achieve some early successes while familiarizing yourself with the whole planner and the process.

    For help with using the electronic files, see Appendix A “Using the eForms” at the back of this book.

    The following outline guides you through completing your planner beginning with the most simple topics, then the essentials, more complex, and final topics. In turn:

    Simple Topics
    As you complete the easiest sections, begin to collect your important documents for other sections and store them with your planner. This will help you do the work that comes later.

    Simple Topics
    Section Topic
    4 Children
    5 Others Who Depend on Me
    6 Pets and Livestock
    9 Memberships and Communities
    10 Service Providers
    23 Secured Places and Passwords


    If you skip sections. If some planner sections do not apply to you, note at the top of the section, “N/A.” This way your loved ones will be clear that you considered the information and had nothing to include. For example, if you don’t have life insurance and you note “N/A” in the life insurance section of your planner, your survivors won’t have to worry that there’s a policy somewhere that you forgot to include.

    Don’t read this book! Your job is to create your planner and enjoy peace of mind. Don’t plan to read this book cover to cover! Follow these tips to make the job easier:

    • Sequence. Work on sections one at a time, following either the standard path or the abbreviated, “If Time is Short.”
    • Focus. Focus on completing the planner pages with your personal information, add your related materials, and insert both into your personal planner binder. Unless you want more information or need help, do not read the guide pages. This way, you won’t get bogged down, wading through materials you don’t need to read.
    • Remember. As you work, remind yourself that your completed planner will be so handy for you—and, ultimately, it will be a valuable road map for your loved ones.

    Essential Topics
    After you’ve warmed up with the easiest topics, turn to the essentials of your planner, the things that your loved ones will most need to know if you become incapacitated or die. Each of the following topics may require you to complete a small project, depending on the work you’ve already done. For example, if you’ve already made a will (or other estate planning documents), completing Section 17 won’t be difficult; you should start there. If you haven’t yet done any planning, take these topics one at a time, remembering that the guide provides a wealth of direction.

    Essential Topics
    Section Topic
    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
    17 Will and Trust


    Online Storage Services

    New online services pop up regularly, promising safe electronic storage for your important records and information. At first blush, such an arrangement may seem smart, but there are many reasons why printed, physical storage is your better solution.

    On one hand, the advantages of online storage include:

    • Easy access for you. You can access an online data bank anytime from nearly anywhere.
    • Simple to use. Online storage services promise that you only need type in your information and upload your documents— and voilà, you’re done!
    • Easy use by multiple people later on. Anyone with permission can view your materials—at any time, from anywhere.
    • Protection. While documents stored in the cloud are more vulnerable to cyber risk, they are less vulnerable to natural risks, such as fires, floods, or earthquakes.

    On the other hand, the disadvantages are considerable:

    • Easy access brings security risks. Typically, you’ll want only one or two people to have access to your planner. For security, your home safe is a better bet.
    • Simple isn’t always easy. You’ll have to render each document in digital form (typically by scanning) before uploading it.
    • You can’t scan everything. What about stored credit cards, keys, or your passport? You’ll want to store physical objects like these with your planner.
    • Your loved ones may be overwhelmed. Grieving, hurried, and feeling lost, it may be difficult for your survivors to figure out how to unlock your online data and print the materials needed by banks and lawyers. For many documents, they will need to produce the originals as well.

    Given these complications, it’s best to organize your materials in physical form and store them in your home safe. Your survivors will be grateful for your choice.


    Use ink and initial pages. If you’re using your computer to complete your forms, print out the completed planner pages, initial and date each page in ink, then insert in your planner. If you complete the forms by hand, write your final draft in ink, then initial and date each page. This will deter others from tampering with or modifying your planner.

    Complex Topics
    For the following topics, you might have to work harder or longer to obtain the necessary information or related documents. Start with the topics for which you have the most information—or those you feel will be easiest for you—and then move on to the others.

    Complex Topics
    Section Topic
    3 Biographical Information
    7 Employment
    8 Business Interests
    16 Obituary
    18 Insurance
    19 Bank and Brokerage Accounts
    20 Retirement Plans and Pensions
    21 Government Benefits
    22 Credit Cards and Debts
    24 Taxes
    25 Real Estate
    26 Vehicles
    27 Other Income and Personal Property
    28 Other Information


    Final Topics
    Finally, you may want to leave writing letters to your loved ones until last, as it may be difficult, even overwhelming, to do early in the process. It will come to you more easily after you have spent time on the rest of your planner.

    Similarly, it’s wise to complete Section 1 Instructions at the end of the process. The Instructions section integrates all of your completed planner topics into a master guide or road map for your loved ones.

    Final Topics
    Section Topic
    1 Instructions
    2 Letter to Loved Ones


    Now, after you have done the hard work of assembling your planner, you’ll want to get the full benefit of your efforts. That means two final steps: telling your loved ones about your planner (it won’t help them if they don’t know it exists) and keeping your information up to date.

    STEP 6: Talk to Loved Ones

    No matter where or how you store your planner, it’s critical that your survivors can access it. Be sure to inform your agent for health care, agent for finances, executor, and successor trustee—the folks you’ve appointed in legal documents. Your agents need to be familiar with:

    • How to access your home. Make sure they know the location of your home and how to get into it, including any necessary information about keys, alarms, or gate codes.
    • Where you keep your planner. Your agents should know the location of your planner.
    • How to open your safe. If your planner is stored in a secure location, your agents should have information about keys or codes.

    If you’ve stored your planner elsewhere or in two different locations, be sure to make the locations and access instructions very clear.

    Review this information with your loved ones every year or so. Be sure they know to turn to your planner first if you are incapacitated or when you die.

    First Steps for Families

    When the time comes, your family may be confused about how to get started— whom to call, how to coordinate with others, what to do first. This may be especially true if you and your spouse become incapacitated or die close in time to each other. Also, if the agents named in legal documents don’t know each other well (as might be the case if they are the grown children from prior marriages), it may be a challenge for the agents to figure out who should do what.

    As a quick and ready reference for those who will need it, consider developing a “first steps” sheet. On this sheet, list the names and contact information for each of your agents, like this:


    Medical Directive for John Smith
    Primary agent - Susan Smith 555-555-5555
    First alternate - Joseph Smith 222-222-2222

    Medical Directive for Amy Smith
    Primary agent - Angelo Damonte 444-444-4444
    First alternate - Ezra Taylor 333-333-3333

    Then, you could outline the first tasks like this:


    Contact agents. Contact each of the agents listed on this sheet to coordinate your efforts.

    Access complete instructions and documents. If we are incapacitated, locate our Medical Directives and Durable Power of Attorney for Finances. If we have died, you will want information to make final arrangements and wrap up our estates. In both cases, you will need access to our home to retrieve our Planners and respond to short-term tasks.

    Our home. Separately, we will provide each of you with instructions for gaining access to our home and to our Planners.

    Our planners. All of our important information and related documents are filed in our Planners. Section 1 Instructions will lead you through the next days, weeks, and months.

    Print (or write out) your first steps sheet on brightly colored paper so that your loved ones can find it later when it’s needed. Review it with each of your agents, and give each one a copy for safekeeping and future reference.

    STEP 7: Update Your Planner

    A good way to stay current is to make notes about changes as they occur. Simply toss a scribbled note into your planner so you don’t forget about the change. (Post-it notes work well for this purpose.) These notes will make your periodic review and update much easier and may also provide valuable direction to your caretakers or survivors.

    Then it’s a good idea to review and update your planner every two or three years to be sure everything is current and accurate. Especially remember to update your planner if you:

    • have a new child, or become married, divorced, or widowed
    • change jobs, retire, or become a partner in a business
    • set up new passwords or personal identification numbers (PINs)
    • cancel a credit card or get a new one, or
    • purchase a new vehicle.

    You’ll also want to be sure your legal documents—your health care directives, will, living trust, and so on—remain current. In the guide, you’ll find guidelines for reviewing these documents and updating them if necessary.

    We hope you enjoyed this sample chapter. The complete book is available for sale here at

  • Forms
  • This Book Comes With a Website

    Nolo’s award-winning website has a page dedicated just to this book, where you can:

    DOWNLOAD FORMS - All forms in this book are accessible online. After purchase, you can find a link to the URL in Appendix A.

    KEEP UP TO DATE - When there are important changes to the information in this book, we will post updates

    And that’s not all. contains thousands of articles on everyday legal and business issues, plus a plain-English law dictionary, all written by Nolo experts and available for free. You’ll also find more useful books, software, online services, and downloadable forms.


14 Reviews
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star

A needed part of the Plan

By Tom A.

I found the many tables and explanations form a structure not only organizing our financial and estate planning activities, but also for creating a focus for documenting our activities.

Posted on 9/21/2022

Haven’t received it yet-Revised


I ordered this 21 days ago & still haven’t received it yet! I contacted customer service via email & they responded right away-apparently it really does take a very long time to receive it. Anyway, a few days later I did receive it & it’s a good product. Very glad I ordered 2-makes a great gift.

Posted on 9/21/2022

very helpful

By Donald P.

Too much detail for my needs but others may need it.

Posted on 9/21/2022


By Jean F.

With my husband's dementia progressing faster than expected, finding this guide was a tremendous relief to me. Now I know all I need to do and how, in an organized approach.

Posted on 9/21/2022

Preparing for to do my WILL.

By Rafael G.

Easy to understand and comprehend the different information need to do my will. Easy.

Posted on 9/21/2022


By Peter B.

Get it Together has been very helpful for my wife and I to summarize information for our children which they can use in case we are no longer here. Some thing we should have done years ago. It is an excellent source.

Posted on 9/21/2022

Highly recommended!

By Anthony A.

A great starting place to help my aging parent get things in order. Once I have completed my parent, I'll begin on myself for my children. The new 9th edition has an improved "introduction" and roadmap than the 8th. Highly recommended!

Posted on 9/21/2022

Best guide for your estate

By Anne W.

Wonderful guide to getting your estate in order. I purchase two more copies for my children.

Posted on 9/21/2022

The final piece of the Puzzle!

By Shannon W.

This book was the final piece of the Estate Planning puzzle for me. I've become the de facto Estate Planning Manager for our extended family and friends; to minimize my work I've now purchased five copies of this book to gift to others. Highly Highly Highly recommend.

Posted on 9/21/2022

Awesome product!

By Sandra C.

What a great resource! I've been wondering how to get my affairs in order for my son and this tells how to do everything step by step.

Posted on 9/21/2022

Must Have

By John P.

very well thought out

Posted on 9/21/2022

Excellent resource to organize estate

By Phyllis P.

Well worth the investment.

Posted on 9/21/2022


By Anonymous

This is my second book to purchase. I am recommending it to friends and family.

Posted on 9/21/2022

Nothing but common sense

By Anonymous

I was very disappointed by this book, which was only full of common sense and empty pages for the reader to fill in. If common sense is what your looking for, this book fills the bill. I've actually already thrown it away.

Posted on 9/21/2022

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