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?
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!