Part II – Creating an Emergency File

More tips for Organizing Important Information

As you may recall from last month’s newsletter, I provided a list of some of the important documents that you “should” have in one, easily accessible but safe place. While there are many more documents than the ones I mentioned, this is a good start.

I suggest putting these documents in a three-ring binder with dividers for each section. You can also use an expanding file. Use whatever is easiest for you. I’m just thrilled if you get the process going (and your family will be too).

Make sure that whatever you wind up using is accessible and can easily be carried out of the house if and when necessary. Be very thoughtful about where you put this file. You do not want it to end up in the wrong hands. Store it in a waterproof safe that is bolted to the floor or hide a copy under a false name in a filing cabinet or on a shelf. Whichever you choose, make sure someone else knows where it is.
If you decide to keep this information on your computer, don’t forget to:

1) Encrypt & password-protect any folder or list you have on your hard drive
2) Remember the password & write it down someplace that is not accessible to stranger
3) Give it to a loved one who is not your spouse or significant other
4) Consider downloading the information and documentation from your computer to a flash drive & keep it somewhere safe;
5) You might also consider storing your important documents on a cloud server

Here’s a breakdown of what to include:

Financial Institutions & Insurance:
• Name, address, phone number & email of each company & your advisor/broker
• Account number(s)
• Location of Safety Deposit Box & key (you may want to include a description of the contents as well)
• Login Information (Password, Username, ID Number)
• Security questions or other instructions for accessing account(s) online
• All pertinent information of beneficiaries
• Name of anyone that has signatory power on the account(s)

Property:
• If you own one or more properties, a list should include the following for each property:
o The address
o Name, address, phone number & email of any co-owners
o Name, address, phone number & email of Mortgage company
o Type of Ownership (Include timeshares, rental units, etc.)
o If property is rented or leased include the name, address & phone number of the renter/lessee
o Where the Deeds can be found

Utilities & Other Service Providers:
• Name of company & type of service
• Account numbers
• Login information if you have an account on-line
• How & when bills are paid (e.g., auto withdrawal, mail, etc.)

Memberships/Subscriptions:
• Passwords, User ID, Account Numbers, etc. for:
o Social media accounts (Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, YouTube)
o Websites (personal & business)
o Email Host
o Domain Host
o Online Shopping Accounts (e.g., Amazon, eBay, etc.)
o Frequent flier accounts

Credit Cards:
• Name of Card
• Names of Cardholders
• Account number
• Security Code
• Expiration Date
• Make a copy of front & back of card

Last Wishes:
• If you haven’t done any pre-planning, this is your chance to let your loved ones know your wishes. Take some time to think about what you want with regard to:
• Funeral, burial, memorial service
• Preferred funeral home
• Specific requests:
• Graveside
• Pallbearers
• Cemetery plot location
• Type of casket or urn
• Obituary information
• Body/organ donor
• Burial clothing
• Preferred music

Medical Information:
• Names, addresses & phone numbers of treating physicians
• Allergies (include allergies to medications)
• Important diagnoses/disorders
• Important medical procedures
• Medical appliances (i.e.: pacemaker)
• Family history
• Medications you are taking
• Name, address & phone number of pharmacy
• Name, address & phone number of emergency contact

Assets/Inventory:
• List of Personal Property that has significant value including, but not limited to:
o Cars (list each one by make & model number if there’s more than one)
o Furs
o Artwork
o Antiques
o Family Heirlooms
o Jewelry
 List of who you want to have these items when you pass on. Make sure to attach a copy of the list to your will & make sure to give the executor of your will a copy as well.
 *Note: Be specific & describe the item if there’s more than one!

Insurance Information:
• Name, address, phone number & email address of broker
• Declarations Page
• Premium Amount & Due date
• Elimination period
• Policy number & Group number
• Policy period

Employment:
• Name, address & telephone number of employer and/or immediate supervisor
• Copy of Employment Contract
• Copy of any Stock Certificates
• Copy of any Retirement Plans, Pension Plans, 401K Plans, etc.
Once again, this is not a comprehensive list but it’s a great start.

If you need help with an organizing project of any kind, give us a call. We’d love to help!

Creating an Emergency File

When you see news images of people who lost everything after a natural disaster, doesn’t it make you think about how they are going to put their lives back together? http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-earthquake-image11182826

You never know when your home will be struck by a flood or an earthquake or when a personal crisis will arise. I hate to be so morbid but this is important stuff to think about and it is important to be ready for such an event.

As we live longer and collect more things-more documents, more data-there are that many more things to be managed when a crisis arises. I was stunned to read that state governments in the U.S. have taken possession of up to $400 billion in assets that relatives never claimed. Not knowing what bank accounts, other financial holdings, or insurance policies a family member has that you may be entitled to can cost you a lot of money in lost assets, professional fees and taxes. Why not collect everything you may be entitled to?

Your best course of action is to be proactive. Should you fall victim to a natural disaster, become incapacitated or g-d forbid die, you will have done your loved ones an invaluable service if you’ve provided them with all the information and documents they might need in the case of any emergency.

If there were an emergency, you wouldn’t want the people in your life to be even more stressed trying to figure out where things are and who to call. Imagine what it would be like if you had to find all of the account numbers, passwords, and important documents for a loved one without any clues? How long would that take you? How stressful would that be? What if you couldn’t figure it out? What if time was of the essence?

Although the hope is that none of your family and friends will have to look at this information for a very long time, you should, at the very least, start getting this information and documentation together. Should an illness, injury, or other emergency occur, friends and/or family members can help carry out your responsibilities while you recover.

Take a few minutes each day or a couple of days each week to pull the information and documentation together until you’re done. When you are finished, make a copy and give it to someone else, such as your lawyer, children, or parents.

If both you and your spouse or significant other were to have an accident, someone else needs to know what steps to take. To make the information as useful and comprehensive as possible, pretend at the time you’re compiling it that you’re doing so for a complete stranger. As I mentioned, in a time of crisis or grief, your loved ones may not be thinking clearly or may forget things that would otherwise be obvious.

The following is a list of the documents and information that your loved ones might need to take care of you in the event of a natural disaster, or should you become incapacitated or die.

* LAST WILL & TESTAMENT
* REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST OR OTHER TRUST DOCUMENTS
* LIST OF ALL TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY
* MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
* PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
* DIVORCE DECREES OR SEPARATION AGREEMENT
* CHILD SUPPORT DOCUMENTS
* ADOPTION RECORDS
* MORTGAGE PAPERS/REAL ESTATE DEEDS
* BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS
* MOST RECENT TAX RETURNS
* POWER OF ATTORNEY
* HEALTHCARE DIRECTIVES
* MILITARY SERVICE RECORDS/MILITARY DISCHARGE PAPERS
* INSURANCE POLICIES (MEDICAL, DISABILITY, AUTO, HOMEOWNERS, FLOOD, EARTHQUAKE, UMBRELLA, LIFE, TERM)
* AUTOMOBILE LEASES/VEHICLE TITLES
* BIRTH CERTIFICATE
* EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS/BUSINESS AGREEMENTS
* CONTACT INFORMATION (FRIENDS, FAMILY, DOCTORS, BANKERS, LAWYERS, INSURANCE BROKERS/AGENTS, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES)
* SOCIAL SECURITY CARDS/PASSPORTS/VISAS
* MEDICAL RECORDS FOR EACH FAMILY MEMBER (INCLUDE BLOOD TYPE IF KNOWN)
* DRIVER’S LICENSE OR OTHER PHOTO IDENTIFICATION
* COPIES OF ALL CURRENT CREDIT CARDS
* ALL EDUCATIONAL DEGREES AND/OR CERTIFICATIONS
* PASSWORDS & ID NAMES FOR ALL ONLINE ACCOUNTS (INCLUDING SOCIAL MEDIA)

Make sure to update your Emergency File when you change insurance policies, update your will or trust, buy or sell property, get married or divorced, have a child or experience other significant life changes.

IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ. Next month I will provide a detailed breakdown of information to be included in your Emergency File so STAY TUNED for next month’s newsletter.

If you find that compiling this information is too daunting to do by yourself, enlist the help of your spouse or your children. Of course, you may also contact me to help you, as this is a service I offer.

If you need help with an organizing project of any kind, give us a call. We’d love to help!

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-earthquake-image11182826

Are You Prepared For An Earthquake?

Natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and/or fires, can have disastrous and far reaching effects on our lives. Especially if we are not prepared!

Watching the news and seeing images of people who lost everything, their houses, cars, clothing, family heirlooms and photographs, in the aftermath of a natural disaster, has always made me think about how they were going to put their lives back together. While we can’t prevent or stop these events from happening, we can be prepared so that we can mitigate the damages.

Since we (at least most of the people getting this newsletter) live in California, earthquake territory, I put together a list of five important tips for how to be or how to get prepared for an earthquake. Hopefully this will provide information and motivate you to do something, anything, towards getting you and your loved ones ready, just in case…:

• Know your risks: Learn what to do before, during and after an earthquake. www.ready.gov is a great resource for emergency related information.

• Be Proactive: Make sure to have an earthquake kit. I have one in my car just in case I’m not home when an earthquake hits. See below for pre-made earthquake kits.

• Take action: Make a communications plan with other family members or friends NOW so you’ll have it when you need it. (notice I said when!)

• Fema.gov has great article entitled “How to Prepare for an Earthquake”. Here’s the link: http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1408632135401-3d0521fa59d0dd4016e82f08fe7f3732/PrepareAthon_EARTHQUAKES_HTG_FINAL_508.pdf

• Make sure that you have all of your important documents together in one place so that you can recover your losses quickly (ie, insurance policies, photos of valuables, emergency contact list) I keep mine in a 3 ring binder that is easily accessible. If you want more detailed information about which documents to keep and how to get it all together, sign up for my newsletters (see the link below) and get a FREE Emergency List File.