If you live anywhere along the East Coast, you’re well aware that it’s hurricane season. However, natural disasters can strike anywhere at any time, from hurricanes in the East to tornados in the Midwest and earthquakes on the West Coast. Sometimes, evacuations are necessary, and when fleeing a natural disaster, you rarely have time to think about to what to grab.
With that in mind, many advisors recommend creating a “financial go-bag”, or disaster kit, that includes copies of important records and documents connected to your accounts and investments. Such items should be stored in a portable bin that’s always easily accessible and ready to be packed in the car in case of an emergency. As for what to include, financial advisors recommended the following in a recent MarketWatch article1 :
IDS, MEDICAL DOCUMENTS AND WILLS – The IDs would include your driver’s license, obviously, but also passports, Social Security cards and birth certificates for all household members. Health insurance cards should also be included, along with anything else you normally keep in your wallet, including credit cards. Medical information is also important, including copies of prescriptions, medicine lists and contact information for doctors. To prepare for the worst, you should also include copies of estate documents such as your will or power of attorney.
CASH – It’s a good idea to keep a bit of cash in your kit since it is the most reliable form of currency in a disaster. When power outages occur, many businesses can’t accept credit cards. Also, banks may have to remain closed for some time, and ATMs may be damaged depending on the severity of the disaster. With cash on hand, you can overcome these obstacles.
PROOF OF ASSETS – Advisors recommend creating and keeping a “vital document locator”, which is a simple document that details a summary of your financial life in the event of a sudden loss.
INSURANCE POLICIES, DEEDS TO ANY PROPERTY AND VEHICLE TITLES – Also include bank and investment account statements, information regarding any outstanding loans, tax returns from recent years and any paper stock certificates or bonds.