Hurricane season has officially started. How do you protect your estate planning documents during a crisis? What papers should you take with you? Your original health care surrogate, durable business and health powers of attorney, your advance directive (living will), and signed copies of your original will and trust are essential. Your driver’s license, health insurance cards, debit and credit cards, and camera should also be in your possession.

The following documents and other information may be helpful or essential in your situation, but this list is not exhaustive; your personal circumstances may require different or other items:

  • Birth, Death, and Marriage Certificates
  • Passports
  • Recent Bank and Brokerage Statements
  • Deeds to Real Property, any Mortgages and Credit Lines
  • Titles to Automobiles and Lease or Loan Documentation
  • Insurance Policies and Agency Contact Information, including Life, Health,  Disability, Automobile and Real Property.
  • List of Major Household Items, including Make, Model, and Serial Numbers
  • Location of Original Wills, Trusts, Powers  of Attorney and Safety Deposit Boxes
  • Contact Information for all Personal Representatives, Trustees and Guardians
  • Contact Information for all your Legal and Financial Advisors and Doctors, Dentists, and Health Care Advisors
  • Handwritten List of your User IDs and Passwords to all Financial Accounts
  • Complete List of Assets and Liabilities
  • Prescription Medications, Photographs, and Information on Family Collections, Heirlooms and Pets

In this digital age, except for your User IDs and Passwords, you can save the documents and information lists in advance on a Flash Drive, CD or DVD to keep with you. You can even save your information and send it in a sealed envelope to a family member with whom you have absolute trust, who lives in another part of the country. Remember, although a copy of an original signed will or trust can be used to validate the original document, it could be months before you obtain access to the original contents of a safety deposit box if a crisis occurs.

Stay tuned for our next newsletter, as we continue to watch Congress for news on changes to the estate tax laws, which we expect soon. In the meantime, if you have specific questions, you may call any lawyer in our estate planning group to schedule an appointment as we will be pleased to assist you.

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