February 19, 2019, Leslie Trichka Beery, VIS Chair and Webmaster, Women’s Issues Chair,  Fort Morgan Chapter, NSDAR 

Taking control of your future is a necessity for all of us at some point in our lives.  It is the harsh reality of life, the realization that one day our lives will change considerably and/or come to an end. Conversations about planning and wishes if something happens are often the discussions that come too late or never. This forces loved ones to make decisions without all the information necessary. We can help ourselves and family by planning ahead and having things in order if anything was to happen and for times when we are aging and need to transition responsibilities.

To get started, start small and make a list of the basics and start documenting information that you know off the top of your head.

Here is an example basic starting list:  Where Is It?  ( Information for us to build this sheet was used from the AARP Know Where It Is Resource)

Print out the “Where is it Sheet” and 3 hole punch for placement in a 3 ring binder. 

Use protective sheets to organize documents in the binder that go with the checklist. 

In addition to the checklist and protective sheets, add the following information to your book:

Emergency Contacts/Numbers

  • Family & Friends addresses and phone numbers
  • Phone contact trees – if you have a contact tree for schools, church, friends, and family, etc.
  •  Kids’ schools and day care centers
  •  Important business associates
  • Doctors, Dentists, and local hospitals/clinics
  • Business and work numbers and contacts
  • All Household Bills and Utilities 
  • Local non-emergency numbers for police, fire, ambulance, and city
  • Your Emergency Plan – you’ve planned everything out with close family and friends. You’ve got a plan on who to call but when you’re in a panic, it may be hard to keep everything straight. Have a plan printed out to refer to.

Organize and Add information on an ongoing basis.  Keep the binder up to date.  

With this head start in having information all in one place you have already saved yourself or someone else months of work to try and piece things together.  Do not be surprised if somewhere along the process you need to add binders or separate information into multiple binders or boxes.  

Useful Resources to build your binder and customize it to your situation:

This binder is useful for all ages, all stages of a family.  A Family emergency binder is an excellent resource to have and great way to keep records in one place.  

Family Emergency Binder: Free Checklist to Create Your Own

This binder is a great family info binder that again can be used for anyone and is a great visualization to give ideas for how you will want your binder to look.  

A More Detailed Look at our Important Info Binder

AARP has extensive resources and a few that pertain to planning and organization are here:

Prepare to Care


Whichever method or resource you use to put together your important documents it should include yourself, spouse, children and any aspect of planning that needs to take place during a medical emergency or death. Include a representative or one of the people that you appoint power of attorney to go over the information and keep them up to date when things change or get updated. Let them know where the binder or box of items are located and of course keep in a safe place that is accessible by your appointed person.  

Next post we will go over caregiving and what to do in the event that yourself or someone in the family has a medical emergency that leaves them dependent on caregiving from family or an outside agency. We will discuss Medicare, VA, and typical insurance coverages and terms.  In our next post we will also explain the importance of the items in this post and build on how this planning phase proves to be important. We will go over rehab facilities, skilled nursing, non skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and how to navigate through the healthcare industry. Again, we will have resources and suggestions for going forward.