Is your estate plan ready to survive a disaster? If something happened to you or your home, how would you respond? That’s what emergency preparedness is about. Here are some tips:
First, figure out how you will store your important information, such as in a fireproof strongbox or in cloud storage.
Second, figure out what you need to store. I found a similar article here with a great list: account numbers, usernames, and passwords to your most important accounts, copies of insurance policies, contact information for your advisors, and copies of your estate planning documents.
Third, think about how you will access your documents in various scenarios and what you’ll need. What works for one family or one disaster scenario may not work for another. Medical emergency? Probably don’t want to have the medical directives and health insurance documents in a safety deposit box that you can’t access during non-banking hours. Break-in or theft? Probably don’t want all your personally identifiable information or passwords in an easily steal-able container like a purse or on a list under your keyboard. Fire, tornado, or flood? Probably want to have the insurance documents stored off-site or online. Also consider writing down the contact information for your advisors (financial, insurance agent, estate planner, etc.) in case your phone is damaged or lost.
A word about online storage. Putting things online will probably fit many scenarios, but don’t forget that you’ll need to be able to access it. For example, the elderly couple in the article about what to store lost everything to Hurricane Florence, including the computer that had all the account numbers and passwords to their information. Their daughter had to impersonate them to gain access to needed paperwork. A better solution could have been to use an online password-keeper service, so the couple could simply access the password keeper program and be able to more quickly recover their documents.
Finally, while you’re in emergency preparedness mode, don’t forget to do/review the rest of your emergency preparedness planning. This includes the basics like your evacuation plan. To find out more about how to make your emergency preparedness plan, go to https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.
If you want to discuss how to do more emergency preparedness for your estate plan, feel free to contact me.
See you on the trail.
Post by Peter Harrison