Expect the best, and prepare for the worst. No one likes that advice, but it's nonetheless sound, especially when it comes to getting your finances in order before a natural disaster strikes.
To help you and your family get ready, the Independent Community Bankers of America, or ICBA, an industry association of community banks, has put together this list of tips and suggestions:
Keep family records in a bank safe-deposit box. Examples of such records include adoption papers, marriage licenses, property deeds, birth certificates, wills, insurance policies, passports, Social Security cards, immunization records, credit card account numbers, car titles or lease contracts, bank and investment account numbers and three years of tax returns. Put each document in a sealed plastic bag to keep out moisture.
Make copies of critical documents for safekeeping. Notify a trustee, close relative or attorney as to where your important financial information is located.
Keep names and contact numbers of executors, trustees and guardians. These can be kept in a safe deposit box or give to a close relative.
Make a list of household valuables. Photographs can help, too.
Build an emergency fund to cover at least three or four months' of expenses. Keep this fund separate from any savings or investment accounts.
Include extra cash, ideally small denominations, in a home emergency kit. The kit also should include a three-day supply of water and food, a first-aid kit, a can opener, flashlights, a radio and extra batteries.
Identify records that are kept only on a computer and consequently might not be available during a power outage. Make printouts and safeguard them or back up these records to an external device or web storage facility.
Jeff Gerhart, chairman of ICBA and Bank of Newman Grove in Nebraska, said in a statement that knowing your financial papers are secure can give you one less worry during a time of distress.
“Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and other natural disasters remind us how important it is to be organized and have a plan," Gerhart says. "Having a financial preparedness plan will protect you and your family from the long-term effects of damaged or destroyed financial documents."
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