Aug 16, 2009

Protect those Estate Planning Documents

Hurricanes Ana and Bill are the opening acts in Florida's hurricane season. As I write this, no one knows what kind of performance they'll put in - or if they'll show up at all. One thing is certain: you need to prepare! As you stock up on water and board up the house, make sure you also turn your attention to protecting your valuable estate planning and life planning documents -- your will, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, trust, etc. Here are a few tips.

  1. Original signed documents (if you have them at home and not in a safety deposit box)should go in a watertight container, and OFF THE FLOOR in case flooding occurs.
  2. If you are forced to evacuate, you have to decide if you want to leave the originals at home or take them with you. You should at the very least take copies of your signed documents.
  3. Let trusted loved ones know where to find these documents. You may even want to provide copies to key individuals, if time permits.
  4. Is your home in your trust? Keep in mind that if you need to file a claim with your insurance company, they will probably want to see a copy of the original, signed trust document.
  5. Any other financial institutions you need to deal with post-hurricane will likely want to see the original power of attorney, trust, etc., although some institutions may be more flexible in the aftermath of a hurricane.
  6. Other items to store in a safe place (or take copies with you if you must evacuate): Your durable power of attorney, medical powerof attorney, prescriptions, homeowners insurance, list of your bank and brokerage accounts and other assets.

Everyone stay safe... and let's hope Ana and Bill (and hurricanes yet unnamed) never show up!

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