As Hurricane Florence bore down on the Carolinas last week, many of our family and friends in North and South Carolina packed up and left their homes due to mandatory evacuations. Florence is not the first weather-related emergency in North and South Carolina, and unfortunately, it won't be the last. What should you do with regard to your your estate planning documents when preparing for a disaster?
Preparing for future emergencies - what should you do with regard to your estate planning documents?
The key is to plan well ahead of an emergency. The following tips may help you protect your important property and estate planning documents.
1. Video the contents of your home and any valuable items you need to leave behind. Upload the video to your cloud or email it to a friend in a safe location with power.
2. Make sure your will is secure. You don't have to take it with you but don't leave the original at home if your home could be destroyed. (Generally, it is hard to probate a copy of a will. This is why it is important to protect the original will.)
3. Upload your estate planning documents to a secure cloud or service where your documents will be accessible. This is especially important for your financial power of attorney (if it hasn't been recorded) and your health care documents. Your health care power of attorney and living will should be accessible to emergency medical workers 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. If no one knows you have them, these documents can't help you. There are a number of services that do this. Docubank is one such service that stores important documents online. (Please note, we are not part of Docubank and do not receive any fee or payment from Docubank.) Docubank provides you with a wallet card that notifies EMTs and hospital staff about your health care directives and provides instructions for accessing them 24/7.
4. Your financial power of attorney, health care power of attorney and living will may be especially important if you are injured during a storm and the power is out in your area. Give copies of these documents to trusted family members, consider keeping a copy of your health care power of attorney and living will in your suitcase, or secured in the glove compartment of your car. These documents should not contain your social security number or other financial information!
5. Secure your passwords. Make sure you will be able to access all of your passwords if you evacuate. Don't leave a hardcopy list of passwords in your home after you have evacuated.
If you have planned in advance and taken care of the above, then during an emergency, you can concentrate on the most important things in life - your family and pets. To everyone who experienced the effects of Florence in the Carolinas, our thoughts and prayers are with you.
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DISCLAIMER: This blog contains general educational information only. The information in this post does not constitute legal advice to you and reading the information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Nancy Roberts or the Law Office of Nancy L Roberts, PLLC. You should not rely on this information as legal advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek legal advice from an attorney you hire, who advises you based on your specific facts, circumstances, situation, and the appropriate governing law.