SLT 027: Organizing Important Documents & An Intro To Google Drive


Organizing Important Family Documents and an Intro to Google Drive

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Vanessa Topic: Organizing Important Family Documents

I read somewhere, that “family and home office filing systems are a lot like snowflakes…each one is unique and different.”  And it’s so true!

With that in mind…I’m going to share some basic concepts and things to think about when it comes to preparing your documents so that you are prepared and less stressed if and when an emergency or major life event occurs.

So, why organize and be prepared?

  • If there were a major life event or emergency…let’s say a fire, flood or tornado…would you be able to grab your important files and paper within a moment’s notice?  Well, there’s one good reason to get organized.
  • 70% of Americans die each year without a will ( 3/30/12).  So that means…someone will be appointed by the state to handle all matters of your estate…possibly including guardianship of your children. And it could end up being someone you would never want to handle your estate or care for your kids!  So that’s another pretty darn good reason.
  • It’ll save you time searching for documents in the event of an emergency or major life event.  It’ll also save your family member’s time in the event of a death in the family.
  • It’ll spare unwanted or additional emotional stress and frustration.
  • It’ll save money on funeral homes, services and other last wishes if those things are planned and prepared for in advance.
  • Cut down the chances of missing out on survivor benefits and decrease chance of financial hardships of surviving family members.

What constitutes important family/life documents:

  • Identification papers: birth certificates, social security cards, citizenship, passports, etc.

  • Family documents: marriage certificates, divorce decrees, adoption papers and custody or guardianship papers, death certificates

  • Deeds and titles: vehicles, homes and other property

  • Military records: DDForm 214

  • Wills

  • Living wills

  • Last wishes

  • Cemetery plot registration

  • Power of Attorneys: general, medical, durable, etc.

  • Trusts

  • Safe deposit records

  • Investments

  • Retirement and pension plans (IRA, military and other death/survivor benefits)

  • Insurance documents: life, property, casualty, homeowner’s, auto, health and disability (VA disability letters)

  • Business papers: incorporation, DBAs, partner contracts and agreements

  • Bank accounts

  • Loans and debts

Note: You don’t need to have all the monthly statements for all of the financial documents I mentioned.  You just need the basics of what accounts you have and what are the terms of the benefits or of the loan/payoffs, etc.

Some food for thought and clarification on your important documents:

  • A will is the single most important legal document you will ever sign.  Dying without a will can incur unnecessary taxes, expenses and hardships on your heirs.

  • It’s highly recommended that you update your will in the event of marriage, divorce, or birth or a death of a family member as the beneficiaries may change.  Review it periodically to make sure it is current and up to date.

  • If you move, make sure your will is valid in your current state of residence.

  • Once you’ve prepared a will, consider discussing it with all those involved so that there is clear understanding behind your decisions.

  • Other directives should also be thought through like: living wills and advanced directives which will help family and loved ones make critical end-of-life decisions if you are unable to do so.

  • Also think through Powers of Attorney: There are different types like, General, Special, Durable and Medical POAs, etc.

  • Regarding last wishes.. they aren’t a formal legal document; however it’s a great way to let those involved know exactly how you would like things handled in your life and death. Things regarding how and where you want to be buried…or if cremated, how and where will your ashes be saved or scattered…or what type of service you’d like…funeral or memorial?…and if there’s is anything you’d like the survivors to do…special requests, etc…or if you have an idea of how you want your obituary written.  Get these wishes either written down or expressed openly to your loved ones.

  • If you are missing any important papers like birth certificates, social security cards etc….start working on getting those documents now! The process of getting them can take months!

Lets talk about how to organize those important family documents:

  • Keep all of your important docs in one location

    • A separate filing drawer or cabinet
    • A separate file bin altogether…like a bankers box, accordion folder, or handled hanging file bin.
    • Or if space is limited and you want or need to keep all of your files together in one filing drawer…then maybe identify these important documents by using a separate colored file folder…RED is most commonly used to indicate really important files
  • Another thing you may want to do is think about portability and safe storage of your files.

    • Fireproof Box for copies of your documents
    • Get a Safe Deposit Box to keep your originals.
    • Digitize a backup copy of your files.
  • Now that you’ve got all of your important docs together in one location, it’s still a good idea to create a reference doc

    • This is a document where you can see everything at a glance.
    • Put this document either in the front of your “important documents files” and/or in a safe deposit box.
    • If you leave it with someone else be absolutely sure you can trust them!
    • A spreadsheet or notebook will work just fine.
    • Include the following information in your reference document:
      • Name of the document, policy or institution…include location of other assets like jewelry, collections and other valuable property).
      • Account number
      • Where the document or item is located (safe deposit box number, file folder, bin, personal safe, etc.)
      • Address and phone numbers of each of these accounts, policies, institutions, etc. (be sure to include safe deposit box number)
      • Identify the significance of each item: loan payoffs, survivor benefits, military or veterans benefits, living will directives, cemetery plot registration, etc.
      • Points of Contact: attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, brokers, executor, family members, friends, funeral homes, cemetery locations, etc.
    • Don’t forget about your Digital Docs:
      • You can create the same type of spreadsheet for all of your online accounts: email accounts, bank accounts, Evernote, PayPal, Ebooks, iTunes etc.
      • Make sure it’s password protected and that someone else knows how or where to find that password if they need it. Again, make sure it’s someone that is absolutely trustworthy.
  • The last thing you want to do is talk to your executor and heirs, etc.  Communicate your plan.

Dan’s Topic: Google Drive and Google Docs

Update: The Google Drive Tutorial is now available! This tutorial is just over an hour long and focuses on all the fundamentals of how to use Google Drive for creating, sharing, and storing documents using Google’s free, full-fledged office suite. In this 1 hour+ windshield tour of Goole Drive, you’ll learn how to create text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and even forms and surveys! (The forms and surveys are REALLY cool!)

Don’t miss out on this limited time 20% off discount and buy today at just $7.99!

I’m going to cover 4 areas today: Some General Info, Creating Docs, Sharing Docs, and File Storage.

General Google Drive/Docs Info:

*Text Expander, 1Password, BizXpense Tracker, etc…

**Increased storage available with paid plans

  • Available with any Gmail or Google account

  • Just go to to get started

  • Originally Google Docs…now Google Drive.

  • Serves as a Creation Platform, Sharing and Collaborative Tool, and also as Cloud Storage Service for any document or file you want. Regarding storage, the big difference between Drive, Dropbox, and Evernote is space. Drive comes with 5GB of free space. Almost everything you have with Dropbox, but more functionality for creation.

Creating Docs:

  • Full featured word processing and spreadsheet suite. Lot’s of different options

  • Docs=Word or Pages

  • Presentations=PPT of Keynote

  • Spreadsheet=Excel or Numbers

  • Forms=Create fill in the blank forms that populate your spreadsheets

  • Drawing=Skitch in Evernote, some functions of Microsoft’s Visio

  • To Create a Doc:

  • Click “Create”, chose the type of file you want to create, and begin!

  • Click “untitled document” to name document or you’ll have  a list of untitled docs

  • No save button

  • Available anywhere in the world

Sharing Docs:

  • You can share your docs simply to share the info with someone or you can share to collaborate.

  • When we do our shownotes in prep for the show Vanessa and I collaborate on the doc and work on our shownotes at the same time!

  • All your document history is saved!  You can always go back to a previously saved version or see who made what changes.

    • Just go to the menu and select File>See Revision History

    • Click “Show Detailed Revisions” to see more revisions!

  • Sharing is easy

    • For other Google Drive users:

      • Simply share the doc and assign the level of access you want.

      • Want them to only be able to see the doc? No problem. You can choose between “Can Edit, Can Comment, and Can View

  • If not a Google Drive user, you can email them a link.

Storing Docs/Files:

  • PDFs, music, images, docs…any type of file can be stored

  • Docs must be in a Google Doc format in order to manipulate or edit them.

    • Convert Word files directly or make a copy of the original and convert

    • Same with Excel or Numbers spreadsheets, etc.

  • In your settings you can set to convert automatically if you want.


  • I have a tutorial for Google Drive/Docs coming out soon now available at!

  • Over an hour long and focused on Creating, Sharing, Storage

  • Some great time saving tips and use cases!

  • I’m kicking around doing some video tutorials and this will be kind of a proof of concept for me. As for pricing, I’m looking at $5.99 for 30 minute videos, $7.99 for 45 minute ones, and $9.99 for 1 hour. We’ll see…I think people are willing to spend a few dollars to learn some tips that can save them hours of time. Of course any video would come with a 100% money back guarantee, too, so there’s no risk…

  • The Google Drive tutorial “Google Drive…Simplified” is available for a short period of time for $7.99…that’s 20% off! 
  • So, look for that tutorial in the next few days check out Google Drive…Simplified and let me know what you think!

Thing Segment

  • Dan’s Thing: Appreciating our lifestyle design so that we can react to an emergency situation and be completely spontaneous.
  • Vanessa’s Thing: Taking time out to relax and be with family after over a month of busyness and major life events.

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