Midway through hurricane season is still not too late to prepare for the unexpected. In fact, hurricanes are not the only disasters that may come your way. You never know when a flood, fire or other event will require you to grab what you can and get out quickly. This might mean leaving behind valuable documents that are difficult if not impossible to replace.
Having a plan for protecting those documents could save you immeasurable time and stress you will have to expend should something destroy those documents.
What do I need to do?
Ideally, you will be able to grab your vital documents and take them with you if you have to evacuate. This requires keeping them in a secure and easy-to-access place, such as a lockbox or safe. You may even place them in a safety deposit box at your bank or make copies of them to keep in the cloud. In fact, making copies of your important documents is a great idea as long as you store them separately from the originals. The kinds of documents you will want to copy and protect include the following:
- Personal identification, such as driver’s license, passports, Social Security cards and birth certificates
- Other certificates, such as for your marriage, education or profession
- Your military ID or citizenship papers, if these apply
- Any financial documents, including your bank statements, credit card and debt information, and tax records
- The deed to your home or your rental agreement, titles to your vehicles and records of authenticity for any valuables you own
- Medical records, including documents for immunizations, prescriptions and insurance, as well as instructions for special medical care and physician phone numbers
- Estate planning documents, including your will, trust information, powers of attorney and advance directives
Having these and other important documents organized in a binder or folder will save you from racing around to collect them at a time when seconds count toward your safety.
An added benefit
While having all these documents safely in one place can be a relief in the event of a natural disaster, it can also bring peace of mind to your loved ones if anything should happen to you in the normal course of life. Having your vital information secure and yet accessible to your loved ones can facilitate any action they will need to take if you should become incapacitated or if you should pass away.
Your family will appreciate knowing that you have prepared your important documents so they do not have to waste time or energy trying to locate information that will help them efficiently tend to your wishes.