Kelley Donovan, Investment Advisor, email@example.com
2016 is still young, but already the nation has seen its share of floods, tornados, blizzards and other disasters. You rarely have much advance warning to prepare for most natural catastrophes, which is why it’s important to assemble a financial emergency kit now, ahead of a crisis.
Before we go into the contents of your financial emergency kit, here are a few pointers.
How much to store in your financial emergency kit is up to you, but your kit should include these five items:
1. Cash and keys. Your kit should contain enough cash to facilitate daily life for a few days. Think about how much you will need to pay for food, lodging and other necessities. Cash is best since you may not be able to access ATMs or other electronic forms of payment. Also pack a set of essential keys (including a spare to a safe deposit box, if you have one).
2. Contacts. Create list of telephone numbers, emails or other contact information that includes family members, as well as key medical, financial and business contacts. This information can be stored electronically, too (with proper security precautions), but keep a paper copy in your emergency kit as well.
3. Personal identification. After a disaster strikes, you may have to confirm your identity to obtain disaster relief services, file insurance claims, or get access to your property and financial assets. Keep essential documents that help establish who you and your family are. These include extra originals or copies of passports, driver’s licenses, birth and marriage certificates, adoption decrees, Social Security cards, and military records.
4. Paper or electronic copies of important financial records. Include these financial documents in your kit: mortgages, property deeds, legal documents such as a Power of Attorney and insurance policies. Also include recent financial statements for bank accounts, credit cards, brokerage accounts and statements related to investments that might be held outside a brokerage firm (such mutual funds or 529 college savings). If you access accounts or documents online, include a list of password hints. Also pack recent retirement account statements and your most recent tax return. A password-protected flash drive or file might be safer than hard copies—as long as you can access the files.
5. An inventory of your valuables and personal belongings. This will help you maximize the benefit from your insurance policies and will expedite the claims process. Assemble a paper, photo or video inventory, or a combination of these, and put it into your emergency kit. Save purchase receipts for major items or appraisals for valuable belongings. For your household items, walk through your house and write down what’s in every room. For major items, record make and serial numbers. While you’re at it, record the cost. Take close-up pictures of valuables, including details such as serial number tags. You can also videotape your belongings with narrative description of the relevant information.