Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Are Your Records Organized for an Emergency?

TUCSON (Observer Update) - If you were incapacitated, would anyone be able to find your important records and take care of your family’s financial or business matters? Having important papers organized and accessible in advance can be very important in an emergency or crisis situation.

Consider the following for organizing your important records.

Location. Options for storage might include a home safe, fire-security box or off-site location such as a safety deposit box. The storage container should be securable and fire resistant. Shoe boxes or cardboard boxes in the closet or under the bed are not appropriate. Who knows? Does someone in addition to your spouse know where these papers are kept? Consider making a list of such papers and records, and on the list state where these documents can be found. Then advise a trusted third party – an attorney, CPA, relative, or family friend – where this list is kept. The general idea is that someone not domiciled in your residence know about this list and how to access it. This decision requires a certain comfort level, and you alone are able to make that determination.

Which papers? Regardless of who knows what, organized records are always a plus. The following items might be part of your “important documents” list: safety deposit box key, life insurance policies, deeds, contracts, leases, titles, mortgage(s), loan notes, banking, savings, investment and retirement account(s) records, will, burial arrangements, all other insurance policies (health, auto, home, etc.) and birth certificates.

Beyond however you decide to store your personal records, and whatever you decide to include, one fact is clear. If important legal, business and personal documents are organized and accessible, the handling of a crisis situation is made much easier.

(Dan Kalm is the Observer’s official State Farm agent. To reach Dan, visit his website at

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