Maintaining Your Important Records

Writing on a clipboard.

Back in June of 1974, at Parris Island, S.C., I -- along with 79 other young men -- was given a form from a drill instructor. This particular form was for enrollment in Serviceman's Group Life Insurance (SGLI). As you can imagine, we were told what to write and where. Specifically, we were instructed to write "By-Law" in the beneficiary box. This means that a state court would decide who would be the beneficiary of my SGLI in the vent of my death. Unfortunately, they may not award the benefit to the person I really wanted to receive it.

Beneficiary Designations: The purpose of a beneficiary designation is for an individual to designate a natural person or legal entity to receive property in case of death. The most common use is with life insurance, though there are many others; bank accounts, retirement accounts, pay and arrears just to name a few. It is always a good idea to review your beneficiary information for accuracy on an annual basis or upon an event, such as death of a designated beneficiary, marriage, divorce or birth of a child. If no beneficiary has been listed to receive property then state laws, in most cases, will designate where the property will go.

In case you were wondering what happen all those years ago, we all filled out and signed the SGLI form as instructed!

Organization: If you're anything like me, I imagine that the rest of your personal, financial, and legal records have grown in quantity over the years so that organizing and storing these documents may seem like a daunting task. Yet the importance of having your vital records readily accessible cannot be over-emphasized. In the event of your untimely incapacitation or death, your loved ones will need many of these documents to ensure that your wishes are carried out. This will be an emotionally difficult time and you certainly will not want them to be troubled with locating numerous documents.

Make Your Wishes Clear: Express your wishes, such as how you want your property to be distributed, your intentions for life-sustaining measures, and any special preferences for your funeral and burial arrangements. This information will also help expedite the settlement of your estate upon your death. Be certain to file your documents in one convenient location where your heirs will be able to locate them easily. If you save information on your computer, be sure to let your trusted loved ones know the login information and password.

The Rest of the Documents: Legal documents you and your spouse should compile include, but are not limited to, safe deposit box information, wills, living trusts, durable powers of attorney, durable powers of attorney for health care, living will/medical directives, retired pay statement, DD-214, and any VA disability rating notification. In addition, you should also include Social Security information, marriage certificates, adoption records, death certificates, and passports. We also recommend that you include basic financial institution information including bank and investment account locations.

Secure Vault Storage: As a Member of Navy Mutual Aid Association, you have access to our secure vault to store you valuable documents. You can send them to us at any time, we will make a list of what we have and return this list to you. Rest assured knowing that your documents are available to you at any time. If you happen to live near our offices in Arlington, Va., you can bring your materials by our office. If that is not convenient for you or you're located elsewhere, you can send your materials to us by the method of your choice. When you need your documents, we will Fed Ex them back to you at no cost to you. We provide this service to you as a benefit of your membership with Navy Mutual.

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Life Insurance