10/03/2012 11:36 am ET Updated Dec 03, 2012

3 Reasons to Organize Important Family Documents

By Linda Descano, CFA®, President and CEO, Women & Co. and Managing Director and Head of Digital Partnerships, North America Marketing, Citi

Who doesn't want to live an organized life? Virtually nobody, based on my conversations with women from across the country. Yet many people find the prospect of tackling their file cabinets, storage boxes and drawers full of paper daunting -- and put off the task until "tomorrow."

Joanne Lang, Founder and CEO of AboutOne, an online family organizer, was one of those women. That changed when her son had a life-threatening medical emergency, which you can read about here, while they were on vacation. That experience propelled Joanne not only to organize her paperwork pronto, but to use her expertise in cloud computing to create a tool for organizing household information and making it accessible whenever and wherever needed, 24/7 on a desktop, smartphone or tablet.

"There's no doubt that getting organized requires a small upfront investment of time," said Joanne during a recent phone interview. "The whole point of being organized is to relieve stress by bringing your life back under control. Having a system in place will pay for itself several times over in stress relief when you don't have to frantically look for that one important paper you need."

Still not convinced? Here are three more reasons from Joanne for getting and keeping your paperwork organized:

1. Save Time
An organized record keeping system will enable you to quickly locate important records and other information when they are needed. Your organized records will also enable you to provide needed information to trusted family or friends when you travel or if there is an emergency.

2. Eliminate Clutter
It's so easy to get buried under the press of paper, most of which is just not important! All you have to do is ignore incoming paper for a week or two and you're overwhelmed. Even if you spend a lot of time online, you've probably still get letters, receipts and other important pieces of paperwork that are piling up in your office or online. Being able to scan items quickly from your phone means you can find what you need, when you need it, and that is critical.

3. Peace of Mind
If a fire or flood were to strike, knowing exactly how to access your family's important papers could save you a lot of trouble. Just imagine the time and effort it would take to replace these documents. Having a system or process in place that allows you to quickly gain access to your important documents eliminates a lot of stress. Another good example is organized records enable you to provide important information to new and current health care providers. These records should include instructions for trusted loved ones or friends that can be used if you travel or if there is an emergency. Having this important information organized in a safe place is a step toward greater peace of mind and security for both you and your loved ones.

About the Author:
Linda is President and CEO of Women & Co., a service of Citi that brings women relevant financial content and thoughtful commentary. She also serves as a Managing Director and Head of Digital Partnerships for North America Marketing at Citi. A recognized expert on the topic of personal finance, Linda is also the featured contributor on and, for which she serves as their women and money expert. Her writing, tips and commentary have appeared in countless publications including: Huffington Post, MORE Magazine, American Banker and MSN Money to name a few. She is the recipient of a 2011 Luminary Award from Womensphere® and was the New York recipient of the 2009 Corporate w2wlink Ascendancy Award.