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Over the last several years, we have watched numerous friends and family members deal with unexpected death. Something that has stood out to me in the midst of them grieving is that one added burden can be dealing with all of the paperwork and financial issues, especially if the information needed to address this is not easy to find. While it’s not fun to think about, consider how your own passing or even just a long-term medical issue could be even harder on your family if they have to search for important information. Creating a family emergency binder will ease that burden if the worst ever does happen.
Note: This binder is also something good to have on hand in the case of a natural disaster. If for some reason you ever need to leave your home quickly and unexpectedly, taking this information will make things much easier on the back end.
Creating a Family Emergency Binder
You’ll need to get a 3-ring binder, tabbed dividers, and sheet protectors from the store. You’ll also need a 3-hole punch and a pen or marker.
Then you’ll want to start to locate important documents and put originals or copies in the binder. Here’s a list of the types of documents you should include:
Wills & Powers of Attorney / Medical Directives
Burial Plot Deeds (if you have them)
Life Insurance Policies
Birth & Marriage Certificates for every family member
Bank Account Information (including passwords)
Other Property Information (House, Car, etc.)
Social Security Cards
Important Contact Information
When trying to decide what to put in the binder, think about the information that you know how to access but that your spouse or other family members wouldn’t know how to. I’m embarrassed to admit that because I handle a lot of the financial things in our home, my husband didn’t have the password to access our online mortgage account! While that kind of information wouldn’t be impossible to find if something were to happen me, it would probably be a pain in the neck.
It would also be good to scan these important documents and store them digitally somewhere you can easily access them. Dropbox is perfect because you can access it from any device anywhere!
The last tip is to keep it updated! When something changes—you have an additional child, your change bank accounts, or you get a new passport—you’ll need to make sure you update the binder.
Do you have a family emergency binder? Any tips that you have that I didn’t share?