By FPA member Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP®
Last Updated: November 25, 2011
Have you ever asked yourself how prepared you are in case of an emergency? Do you have a list of important items you will grab if an unexpected disaster or accident strikes?
While we don’t like to think about the possibility of the above happening to us, odds are that our lives will be impacted by an event like this, often striking when we least expect it. Having concise and timely information on hand will prevent you from scrambling and wasting critical time in an emergency situation.
Creating an emergency kit for your family, which contains personal and financial information, is a great start. This is an easy and low cost project, requiring a 3-ring binder equipped with some page protectors or a thumb drive that is password protected or encrypted to store your documents electronically. Simply insert (or save) copies of any important records and documents you might need access to, including those listed below.
- List of full legal names, phone numbers, dates of birth, driver’s license and Social Security numbers for each family member
- Emergency contact list of friends or family (include names, relation and phone number)
- Medical insurance coverage (Plan Name and ID number)
- Prescriptions, medication dosages, allergies and blood types
- Up to date list of professional service advisers, such as primary care physicians, pediatricians, dentists and veterinarians
Contact information for schools, teachers and daycare Providers
- List of website user IDs and passwords
- Insurance policies (life, disability, property and casualty)
- Bank and investment account statements
- Estate planning documents (wills, trusts, health care directives and power of attorneys)
- Up to date list of professional service advisers, such as attorneys, accountants and financial advisers
- Business and partnership agreements
- Current debts/bills
- Real estate holdings (location of deeds)
- Employee retirement accounts and benefits
- Most recent federal tax return
- Location of any safe-deposit boxes and contents
- Income sources (employment, pension, Social Security) and contact information for human resources departments
- Car title
In addition to storing the binder or thumb drive in a secure and accessible area, plan on including a cell phone with a prepaid card, a few recent photos of each family member and a DVD of all household contents for insurance purposes. Seal these emergency items in a fireproof strongbox or a safe deposit box and communicate the location with loved ones.
Involving key family members when building your emergency kit can be useful and assures items are not missed. Planning ahead can make life after these unforeseen events less stressful and less expensive, making it easier to move forward with rebuilding and healing.
FPA member Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP®, is a financial planner at HoyleCohen in San Diego, Calif.