For some years now, businesses have talked about the objective of creating 'paper-free offices'.
However, whilst the push to store documents digitally has cleared desks and freed up filing space in the office, at home things are generally somewhat different.
Most of us still rely on printed or written documents - bank statements, insurance policies and the like - for our personal administration.
It may be difficult to keep track of all the paperwork that we accumulate over many years but the complications caused by not doing so repeatedly crop up during the course of my work.
More than mere inconvenience, there are sometimes legal and financial requirements for replacing documents which might have gone astray. Gathering relevant life policies; pension fund and investment details together is something that should be done at the same time that a Will is prepared.
If it isn't done properly, it can add headache to the heartache felt by families dealing with the incomplete affairs of deceased relatives. In certain situations, the process can mean expense too.
Recently, myself and my colleagues in the Wills, Trust and Probate department at Pannone have found ourselves dealing with estates of individuals who had lost share certificates during their lifetime.
Nowadays, of course, share dealing and ownership is often registered electronically. However share certificates are still issued on occasion and, in previous years, were always issued. To prevent potential improper trading in shares, it is necessary to pay an indemnity fee in order to obtain duplicates. The fee ranges from £65 to £100.
You can obtain help in chasing up accounts and policies which you think may exist but, again, such work can come at a price. Checking with UK banks offering savings and current accounts is free while the Unclaimed Assets Register charges £25 to make enquiries with various building societies, insurance and investment firms, and utility companies.
The hassle of tracking down important lost bits of paper can be relatively easily avoided, of course. I recommend that clients keep such relevant material in one secure place, ideally with a copy of your Will, in order to reduce the chances of things going missing.
Also, by making sure that family members or those people who will act as executors of your estate should something happen to you know where that paperwork is, diminishes the need for them to go to unnecessary effort and expense.