Equally important as having water, food, clothing, and some money stored for present and future use is is the need to have a copy of your family’s financial matters documented and located in one place for instant access. Take the time now to organize your family’s papers and records—it may well be thesecond best investment you can make in your family preparedness activities. The ability to prove ownership of your bank account(s), safety deposit box, and business, brokerage, and/or investment accounts may be necessary after a natural disaster or other calamity destroys the bank, credit union, brokerage or other financial records. Also, since having proof of ownership will allow you to maintain your real property rights, provide qualification for your earned benefits, or provide continuing rights to the use of or provide continuing rights to the use of physical property, it is well worth the effort it takes to amass the information and organize it so it’s readily available.
It is most important that all members of the family know where the family’s personal records, documentation of ownership, and other financial papers and records are kept. They must also know to whom to turn for advice in case the primary responsible individual becomes incapable of directing family activities. Planning ahead by having these forms and papers readily available can save a great deal of agony, anguish, time, and money––especially when an emergency or other unpleasantness causes debility, disablement, or death in the family. Keep the originals of all your family’s important forms in a safe deposit box at the bank or in another secure, private, accessible, safe place away from your home.
The following article details how you can establish a system for safeguarding your family’s personal and financial information. This information may be invaluable to prove your ownership, provide access to earned benefits––and maybe even protect your life! This is an exercise of prudence, practicality, and providence!
The Family Preparedness Household Notebook
Make up a Family Preparedness Household Notebook to collect and maintain your family’s critical information in a single volume. This notebook provides a designated place to keep copies of important and updated records. It’s available on short notice to be carried with the family in the event of an emergency. Make certain each responsible family member knows where it’s kept, and that it’s a most important item to retrieve on a moment’s notice!
Prepare a safe place to keep this Notebook with its documents and papers. This Notebook will help you keep all your updated records in one place. Use top-loading plastic sheet protectors for the documents, with index dividers to identify the categories. Insert sheets of data and documents in a well-organized loose-leaf notebook, so extra pages can be added as needed. Revise all information as needed to keep your data current.
Supplies for the Family Preparedness Household Notebook are available in office supply stores. The cost should not exceed $10 to $20, depending on the amount of supplies and quality of materials selected, and should include these items and accessories:
- Loose-leaf notebook
- Top-loading sheet protectors
- Index dividers
- Waterproof, portable container
- Collect and maintain family vital statistics, ancestor history (genealogy), and financial records. Examples of important documents you will want to copy for your Family Preparedness Household Notebook include:
- Family documents––birth, adoption, marriage, and death certificates
- Relatives to contact (local and out of area)
- Social Security cards and entitlements
- Medical records (and prescriptions for medications, eyeglasses, and prosthetics)
- Immunization records
- Driver’s license
- Military records
- Academic certificates
- Tax returns (3 years)
- Emergency Care documents
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Living Will
- Medical Surrogate Designee
- HIPPA Release
- Guardianship Appointment Form (if available in your state)
- Personal insurance policies
- Retirement accounts
- Contents of safe deposit box
- Property and household items inventory (photographs and videotapes)
- Banking and money accounts (3 years)
- Record of credit / debit cards (3 years)
- Titles to equipment and property
- Property insurance policies
- Deeds to properties and equipment
- Stocks, bonds, certificates, and other financial instruments
- Additional documents relative to your personal needs
- Stash of cash–– bills in small denominations and silver coins
Should you have an emergency need for any of these documents in the future, they’ll be easily found and immediately available to help resolve problems and give you peace of mind. This is a vital part of being prepared. It requires discipline and often as not, attention to detail. It is the summation of your life’s work, so do this task with a view of protecting your estate for the future.
Additionally, keep a small amount of money in small bills and quarters, dimes, and nickels inside a pocket of this Notebook––at least enough to make a few telephone calls or perhaps influence someone to do what they would have done under normal conditions. SUGGESTIONS FOR GETTING ORGANIZED Resolve to get organized––get started and just do it––now! It’s really much easier than searching for lost records in mountainous piles of old bills, tax forms, receipts, and hand-me-down recipes!
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