PREPARED’s suggestions for creating an emergency document for home and business.
The idea is to create a master document or folder you can keep on your computer and send to your phone or keep in Google documents accessible from wherever you go and for family, friends and business associations. This master document will contain all your vital information in case of dislocation in an emergency.
Step 1: Gather Your Vital Records
The most important personal records: First, there are a few documents that you obviously should keep in a secured location (a fire safe or safe deposit box):
Scan these items so you can have a digital record of them as well.
Add the following information to your emergency records kit:
Both your contact information and your emergency contacts’ info. This includes your nearest relatives, your will executor(s), and employers.
Will and medical directives:
Add a copy of your will/living trust and medical letter of instructions (keep the originals with your legal representative). You can also upload a PDF file to Google Docs for this purpose.
Homeowners, auto, medical, life, disability, and other insurance agents/brokers contact info and policy numbers.
Bank, investment, and credit card/loan accounts information, including institution names, phone numbers, and account numbers.
Immunization records, allergies, dietary restrictions, medications, medical/surgical treatments
Description of each pet, vet contact information, and any important medical notes
Car information, home purchase papers/deeds, and other home inventory items.
This might most easily be achieved by preparing a simple excel spreadsheet now with the relevant information added by category.
Step 2: Export Your Accounts Information
For login information to important accounts, it’s best not to store your logins in an online document like this. Instead you can export your logins from password managers like LastPass, or 1Password to a CSV file and then encrypt it so it can be shared securely.
Share Your Master Information Kit and Vital Documents
The Google Docs spreadsheet is easy to share. Once you’ve filled out your version of the spreadsheet, click on the Share button and you can email people who you want to be able to view or edit the document. (Think of people who you’d also consider emergency contacts.)
Step 4. Regularly Update Your Everything Document
You’ll need to update your files/master records book when you update your accounts. This master information kit will need to be reevaluated regularly—consider doing so at least yearly (e.g., at tax time, when you’re already looking at all your accounts) or, better yet, quarterly.
Set up a reminder on your calendar so you won’t forget. When you get your reminder, don’t wait—just quickly look over the items in your document and if anything has changed, update it.
PREPARED, and our trusted advisors hopes you’ll never have to use this – but much better safe, than sorry. You will find additional help creating your own plan at the Capital Area Red Cross web site.