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Prepare Your Financial Information Just in Case of an Emergancy

A disaster that has the potential to destroy your home and all your financial records can strike at any time. Hurricane Sandy is yet another reminder that a storm, fire, or earthquake can happen to anyone. If you have to vacate your home in an emergency, you might only have a few minutes to decide what to take and what to leave.

You'll probably grab family photos and irreplaceable objects but not think at all of financial papers. Gathering and organizing all of your financial information now will help you avoid problems if your home is involved in a disaster. You can still keep all of your account information and important documents at home in a safe or some other fireproof, water-tight container.

You should also keep copies elsewhere such as a safe deposit box - probably the safest and most secure place. Other options include keeping copies with a relative or friend you can trust. Your place of business might be another option but if you use any of these locations, you must be sure no one has access to these sensitive documents.

Not only do you need to secure paper financial documents but you should also backup and make copies of any computer files. Having a hard drive crash is more likely to happen than a disaster happening to your home, so backing up your computer files is the first and quickest thing you can do.

You can keep a copy of computer files on a USB drive in your home and ideally, an additional copy outside your home. There are also websites that you can use to automatically back up your computer files. If you have a MAC or other Apple device you can use the iCloud to backup your information.

If your financial documents and account information are destroyed, missing a credit card payment or loan payment may not seem like a big deal but that is a dangerous assumption. Missing payments on credit cards can send the interest rate on your accounts soaring and can damage your credit rating/credit score. If you pay your bills the old fashion way (by paper payment), you should consider setting up electronic payments for all your bills.

Missing a loan payment on mortgage or car loan might trigger default. Therefore, it is very important to gather all your account information, numbers, payment due dates, etc. in one safe and easily accessible place.

Here is a list of account information that you should compile:

  • Certificate of deposit, savings accounts, money market accounts, checking accounts, all brokerage accounts.

  • Credit cards and debit cards

  • Home mortgage loans, home equity loans, home equity line of credit loans

  • Auto loans

  • Student loans

  • Utility bills including, gas, electric, cable and telephone

Here is a list of personal documents you should gather and/or make copies of:

  • All forms of identification, driver’s license, passport, student ID

  • Social security cards

  • Birth certificates for the entire family

  • Marriage certificate

  • Any Titles, deeds, car registrations

  • All Insurance policies

  • Do a room-by-room inventory of your belongings with photos for property insurance claims

  • All Income tax records

  • Any Wills, living wills, trusts, powers of attorney

We all hope a disaster won't strike but being prepared for the worst is the best course of action you can take.
Author: Robert Till
January 21st, 2013