Are You Financially Prepared for a Disaster?


It’s hard to believe that just six years ago today, the Nisqually Earthquake rattled our cages. I was just getting ready to quote interest rates for a purchase at my office when I was so shook (literally) that I accidentally quoted rates for a 15 year amortized mortgage instead of the 20 year amortized that my client was interested in…needless to say, I honored my quote. You never know when an emergency might happen, whether that’s an earthquake, a tree crashing through your roof or a illness or death in your family. Life happens to all of us when we least expect it. The anniversary of this event reminds me of being prepared for such emergencies.

A few months ago, I read an article from the Financial Planning Association which, among other things, discussed creating a simple three ring binder that contains your important financial information. I thought this was brilliant. In the event you need to leave your home quickly or if you have your partner in the hospital, you need to be able to access your important information quickly instead of running around your house or riffling through filing cabinets, etc.

The three-ring binder is intended for you to create a central source of answers and personal information that can help provide direction and instill hope following a disaster or other family emergency. Unfortunately, a disaster could result in death and incapacity. Accordingly, the binder is an ideal place to record your memoirs, personal wisdom, parting thoughts, and answers to questions that only you can answer. It’s important to keep this information in your binder current and always handy. It should include

  • Instructions for whom to call first, what to do first, and where to find things.
  • Personal family information: names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and other ID numbers and pertinent information about family members.
  • A family medical history that includes doctor contact information, current medications, allergies, and so forth.
  • A current telephone and e-mail directory that lists family members, friends and advisors.
  • A current inventory of your financial assets, including all account numbers.
  • Estate information that includes details about end-of-life wishes and arrangements.
  • A list of service contracts and warranties.
  • Detailed information about your business (if applicable).

I know…you all ready have the emergency kit with three days of water and food on your to-do list! This is just food for thought.