It's an unfortunate reality that with the increasing number of natural disasters across the country, including fires, floods, and hurricanes, the chance that you could lose your house and possessions has become more likely. In the event of such a calamity, it is important that your estate planning and other important documents are beyond reach and easily retrievable.
If your home is destroyed by a natural disaster or another event, you will want to be able to access important information quickly. First, you need to assemble all your crucial documents and information, including the following:
- Account numbers and passwords. Keep a list of your bank and e-mail accounts and securely store your passwords.
- Contact information. Make sure you know how to contact your attorney, advisors, and insurance company.
- Legal documents. You should have copies of all your legal documents, including your will, trust, power of attorney, and health care proxy. You also need to know where any deeds and insurance contracts are kept.
- Tax returns. It is recommended that you have a minimum of three years' worth of tax returns stored. Seven to ten years is even better.
- Medical information. You need to keep track of any prescription medicine and health insurance information.
Once you have all your documents and information, you need to store them in a safe and secure location that will survive a natural disaster. A fireproof and floodproof safe in your house is one way to safeguard documents. We do not usually recommend using a safe deposit box at a bank, but that might be a good option for you.
Another option is online storage. There are online cloud storage systems that ensure your documents are available to you just by logging on. Dropbox, idrive, and Microsoft OneDrive are some online storage options. If you use online storage, make sure you know your passwords. If your information is on a hard drive or thumb drive, store the drives in a secure location, not just in a desk drawer.
Regardless of which storage option you use, be sure your loved ones know where the information is and how to access it.
To make certain you have all the pieces of your estate plan in place and stored properly, contact your attorney.