One of the most important things to secure during a hurricane—and the most overlooked —is your important documents. Here are a few things to remember:
- Store originals in a safe-deposit box at a bank.
- Choose a bank some distance from your home to reduce the risk of both places suffering the same disaster.
- Get a listing of all of your bank’s locations, addresses and phone numbers.
- Copy all the documents in the safe-deposit box and place them in an evacuation box (preferably a fire-proof box).
- Store your evacuation box some place you can get to easily. Take it with you if you evacuate.
- Update documents in both boxes once or twice a year.
- Write instructions concerning health and financial decisions for your family in the event you become incapacitated.
- If you own a home, consider opening a home equity line of credit so emergency funds will be available.
FOR EVACUATION BOX ONLY:
- Safe-deposit box information (location, contents and key)
- Cash, a few rolls of quarters and traveler’s checks
SAFE-DEPOSIT BOX OR EVACUATION BOX:
- Insurance policies (life, auto, homeowners, renters, etc.)
- Copies of health insurance information (insurance card, doctor’s name and number, prescriptions, allergies and immunizations)
- Photocopy of driver’s license
- Birth, Death and Marriage certificates
- Social Security card
- Will and living will
- Mortgage/property deeds
- Adoption papers
- Military records
- Car titles
- Trust documents
- Tax return(s)
- Written instructions for family members
- List of emergency contacts, (family, friends, lawyer, financial advisors, etc.)
- Personal property inventory (item description, serial number, receipt and photograph or video)
OTHER DOCUMENTS TO CONSIDER:
- Home improvement records /receipts
- Warranties and receipts for major purchases
- Appraisals of jewelry, collectibles, artwork, etc.
- Credit card records
- Retirement account records
- Recent checking, savings and investment account statements
- Rental agreement and/or lease
- Recent pay stub and employee benefits information
- Backup disks of critical computerized information
- Negatives of irreplaceable personal photographs (with protective plastic sleeves)