While not always the most exciting topic, I’ve talked about how important it is to physically organize your information in case you die or become incapacitated. And tax season is the time of year where we’re collecting our financial information. Even if you manage your financial life digitally, analog has its place.
The problem is that your inputs and outputs aren’t on consistent systems. Your employer might or might not have your 1099s online, your daycare expenses might be on paper, your student loans might be online. Your deductions, like property taxes and vehicle registration, are probably on paper.
You might do your taxes yourself, email everything to a professional, or perhaps your professional expects you to bring in a folder of papers. For most people, gathering the information and getting to the government is a process in itself that leaves you feeling all over the place.
Another thing to think about (as an estate planner I have to… it’s a vocational hazard), is what happens if something prevents you from filing? What if you’re laid up, or even die? Extensions are possible, but someone at some point is going to have to file your final return. Death doesn’t get you out of taxes.
Think about setting aside a binder and utilizing tools like financially based index tabs and you get extra points for making a checklist. Even if nothing bad happens to you, you’ll thank yourself as April 15th looms.
Jennifer Gumbel is an estate planning and probate lawyer in Austin, Minnesota. She takes her morbid nerd-dom to another level by talking about how to organize your after life, with the website An Organized (after)Life and the podcast, An Organized (after)Life, which you can find on the website, Spreaker and ITunes. You can also find her on Instagram with pics on death organizing and small town Minnesota life at the handle @jengumbel.