Get It Together - Home Page Tips For Using News and Reviews Frequently Asked Questions About Melanie Cullen Contact Melanie Buy the Book


It is a step-by-step guide to collecting and organizing your important papers and information - for yourself and for your loved ones. It is an organizer for you and an eventual road map for your loved ones. This book provides the solution to these thorny questions: Where do you store your important records - birth certificate, title to your car, insurance policies, will, trust, living will, final arrangements? And how will your survivors find those records - and everything else they'll need - when they need it?

Similar to exam or tax materials, the book has two parts: the guide and the planner. The guide provides direction for completing your planner, while the planner is a series of tables. The planner is printed in the book and is also available electronically, downloaded from the publisher's website to your computer. The eForms download key is printed in the Get It Together book.

You can file related materials - such as birth or marriage certificates, your Social Security card, insurance policies, real estate documents, your medical directives, will, living trust - with your planner. Insert your planner pages into a binder with tab dividers, pocket and sheet protector pages, and a binder pouch or two.

This book is for anyone who wants to get their personal records in order - especially:

  • young adults, newlyweds, and new parents,
  • those planning travel or deployment,
  • those facing illness, and
  • seniors.

Twenty-eight topics are covered, encompassing all of your important records. The topics are presented in a sequence that will be helpful to your survivors.

  1. Letter to Loved Ones: A personal letter, written to those you expect will survive you. The letter is the first thing your survivors will read when they turn to your planner after your incapacity or death.
  2. Instructions: Directions for the first few days, weeks, and months following your incapacity and death, referring your loved ones to each section of your planner as needed.
  3. Biographical Information: Facts and vital statistics about your life and the lives of those closest to you, including your mother, father, spouse, and children - and the locations of important documents such as birth, marriage, and death certificates.
  4. Children: A list of the children in your care, describing the guardians and property managers you have named and contact information for others who provide care - relatives, teachers, medical professionals, and so on.
  5. Others Who Depend On Me: A list of people other than children for whom you regularly provide care, including what you do to help them and contact information for others who can help.
  6. Pets and Livestock: Instructions and wishes for the care of your animals.
  7. Employment: Important information about your current and former jobs, including benefits and the location of related documents.
  8. Business Interests: A list of businesses in which you have an ownership interest, including the locations of related documents.
  9. Memberships: A summary of your memberships, including contact information and any accrued benefits.
  10. Service Providers: Contact information for your current service providers, including medical, dental, personal care, property care, and others.
  11. Health Care Directives: Information about the legal documents that set out your wishes for medical treatment and name someone to make medical decisions if you are unable to speak for yourself.
  12. Durable Power of Attorney for Finances: Information about the legal document that names someone you trust to handle money matters if you are incapacitated.
  13. Organ or Body Donation: Wishes and plans for donation of your body, organs, and tissues, including the location of related documents.
  14. Burial or Cremation: Wishes and plans for burial or cremation, including the location of any related documents.
  15. Funeral and Memorial Services: Wishes and plans for a viewing, visitation, wake, funeral, memorial, or other service, including the locations for related documents.
  16. Obituary: An obituary you've written for a newspaper or other publication, or details you'd like your survivors to include if they write an obituary for you.
  17. Will and Trust: Information about your will and other estate planning documents you've made, including trusts. Here, you can also include details about any documents that affect how your property will pass after death, such as a prenuptial agreement or marital property settlement agreement.
  18. Insurance: A description of insurance policies that you own or that cover you, including the location of the policy documents.
  19. Bank and Brokerage Accounts: A list of your bank and brokerage accounts, including the location of related documents.
  20. Retirement Plans and Pensions: Information about any retirement accounts you own or pension benefits to which you are entitled, including the locations of related documents.
  21. Government Benefits: Information about Social Security or other government benefits to which you are entitled.
  22. Credit Cards and Debts: A list of your credit cards, outstanding debts, and automatic bill-pay arrangements.
  23. Secured Places and Passwords: All the places you keep under lock and key (or protected by password), including safe deposit boxes, property and vehicle alarms, and password-protected software or devices.
  24. Taxes: Information to help your survivors complete your final tax returns, including the locations of related documents
  25. Real Estate: Information about real estate that you own, lease, or rent, including the locations of related documents.
  26. Vehicles: A list of your vehicles, including locations of related documents.
  27. Other Income and Personal Property: Information about sources of income and important items of personal property not described elsewhere in your planner, including where the property is located and how you wish it to be handled upon your incapacity or death.
  28. Other Information: Anything else you want to include with your planner or that you want your caretakers or survivors to know.

For each topic, the guide contains relevant content, rich resources, instructions for completing the planner, and tips for maintaining your planner. The content includes, for example:

  • Children: Guidance in arranging care for your children - including naming a personal guardian and property manager - and related information about wills, trusts, and insurance beneficiaries.
  • Pets: Assistance in arranging future care for your pets, such as arranging an adoption through the SPCA, Humane Society, or a veterinary school, and setting up a trust for your pet's future care.
  • Health Care Directives: Overview of the types of health care directives, how directives work, choosing your health care agent, what you can cover in your directives, and the duty of medical personnel to honor your directives.
  • Retirement Plans and Pensions: Discussion of what happens to retirement accounts when the account owner dies, including the implications of probate, taxes, and naming beneficiaries.
  • Secured Places and Passwords: Guidance in selecting what to store in your safe deposit box - so that your survivors can get to what they need when they need it.
  • Real Estate: Overview of ways to own property (both sole and shared ownership), special rules for married couples, and differences between common law and community property laws.
  • Vehicles: Tips for avoiding probate while leaving your vehicles to others, including transfer-on-death registration form.

Resources for each topic include online assistance and website articles, companies and non-profit groups, government agencies, software, and books. An appendix also provides assistance in finding a good expert when you need one - whether an accountant, financial planner, insurance agent, lawyer, or document preparer.

  1. Get started…
    • Set aside one-to two-hour windows.
    • Read the two introductory chapters, About This Book and Completing Your Planner.
  2. Prepare planner pages…
    • Using the workbook, make copies of planner pages, or
    • Using the eForms, download and save to your computer, so that you can later complete each section, password-protect, save, and print.
  3. Get a planner binder…
    • Get a binder with tab dividers.
    • Add some pocket and sheet protector pages.
    • Include a binder pouch or two.
  4. Store your planner securely…
    • Use a fireproof, waterproof home safe.
    • Optionally, store in your safe deposit box or with your attorney -but only planner sections 18 through 28. Keep the rest at home.
  5. Skip around…
    • Start with easiest or most important sections.
    • Begin to collect related documents.
    • Complete sections that apply to you, while skipping those that don't.
  6. Talk to loved ones - especially your agents, executor, and successor trustee - every year or so…
    • Tell them of your personal planner.
    • Describe the location of your planner and give them access instructions.
  7. And finally, update your planner…
    • Note changes as they occur.
    • Review entire planner each 12 months (or as needed).

There are only a few life organizers that provide guidance for organizing your personal records. Only Get It Together delivers a complete package:

  • A complete range of topics, encompassing all of your important records.
  • A focus on your records for today - and just the information your survivors will need if you become incapacitated or when you die.
  • An organized format, appropriately sequenced and indexed, both for you and for your survivors.
  • Straightforward planner tables - comprehensive, yet easy to complete.
  • Perforated planner pages in the printed book, so that you can place your completed pages in a binder with related materials.
  • An eForms planner that can be customized to your personal situation - adding, deleting, and expanding the information according to your need.
  • A user guide that is distinct from survivors' planner guidance, for clarity and ease of use.
  • Robust resources for users who wish to get more information or assistance.

On this website, you can purchase Get It Together products in three configurations.

  1. Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won't Have To— complete, autographed workbook with a link to downloadable forms (eForms). If you like, you can specify a custom inscription to be handwritten in the book by the author.
  2. Binder & Tab Set— companion to the workbook, providing a ready-to-go framework for your personal planner. The tab dividers correspond to the 28 topics of the workbook. For more information, see the FAQ below.
  3. Companion Package— the workbook and Binder & Tab Set together. For more information, see the FAQ below.

For current prices and to order, click on BUY.

The Get It Together workbook with eForms is also available from Nolo and from all major booksellers. For an electronic version, visit online retailers such as Nolo, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

binder and tabs

The Get It Together binder is a great place to store your planner and all your related materials - birth certificate, title to your car, insurance policies, health care directives, will, and more. With a binder, it's easy for you to organize and get to your records. And when the time comes, the binder is a portable reference for your family.

The three-inch binder comes with Mylar-reinforced white tab dividers, already set up for the 28 sections of your planner. "PLANNER" is printed down the spine, making it easy for you (and others, eventually) to find it.

If you have questions, or if you are interested in quantity purchases, please contact Melanie Cullen.

companion package

The Companion Package includes the Get It Together and the Binder & Tab Set, together in one complete, convenient, and discounted set.

With your purchase of the Companion Package, you receive an autographed copy of the book. If you like, you can specify a custom inscription to be handwritten in the book by the author. Your inscription personalizes the package—for yourself, or as a thoughtful and unique gift!

If you have questions, please contact Melanie Cullen.

The "eForms" (electronic forms) are the planner portion of the Get It Together workbook. The eForms are available for download to your computer, for your use in creating your personal planner. With your purchase of the workbook, you will receive a unique download link.

In the download, you will find:

  • Several RTF (Rich Text Format) files that you can use—complete, customize, password-protect, save, print, retrieve, and modify—to create your personal planner.
  • One PDF file, the entire planner, if you wish to print a blank planner to complete by hand.

For more information, turn to the step-by-step instructions in Appendix A, Using the eForms.

Get It Together - Home Page Tips For Using News and Reviews Frequently Asked Questions About Melanie Cullen Contact Melanie Buy the Book
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