The concept behind Emergency Documents Binders is to have important documents in one place so that if you need to leave in a hurry you do not waste time hunting for this information. Alternatively, it contains everything that a friend or relative might need to know to immediately take over in an emergency.
Binder One – General Categories
Using a 15 section Table of Contents – create the following categories
- General Information – Contact Details, Emergency Contacts with Details, Phone, Email etc., Doctors’ Names and Details
- Basic ID Details (SSN, Date of Birth, Driver’s License Number & Expiry, Passport Number & Expiry, Employment Details, Vehicles, Safe Deposit Box & Combination, Health Treatment Records/Conditions, Medications, Bank Accounts & Numbers & Titles plus Balance At Binder Creation Date, Other Finances Accounts & Titles plus Balance At Binder Creation Date
- Net Worth – Financial Advisors
- Cash Flow
- Portfolio Review – Agents and Details
- Insurance Review – Insurance Agents (see Binder 2 for documents)
- Tax Planning – Tax Advisor Name and Details
- Retirement Planning – Retirement Review, IRAs, Pensions, Needs Assessment, Social Security Benefit Calculations
- Legal Review – Legal Advisor, Wills, Will Attorney, Trustees, Main Beneficiaries, Power of Attorney (Health & Financial), Location of Copy of Living Will, Location of Copy of Will (see Binder 3 for documents)
- Real Estate Review – Mortgage Documents, Mortgage Broker, Mortgage Institution, Sub-Mortgage, Liens & Other Need To Know Information
- Estate Planning (see Binder 3 for documents)
Tabbed Pockets can be used in the above categories to hold bulkier items – and make for easier access when changing out information, for example: –
- Power of Attorney Financial
- Mortgage Papers
- Grant Deed
- Residential Appraisal
- Social Security Reports
- Vehicle Titles
- Power of Attorney Healthcare
- Final Arrangements
- Living Will
- Deed of Trust
Binder Two – Insurance
In this binder, each pocket has the copy of the insurance cards, the one page overview letter/renewal request and the short form policy, plus a note to where the full form policy is stored.
- Insurance Personal Umbrella Liability
- Insurance Life
- Insurance, Health
- Insurance, LTC (Long Term Care)
- Insurance Homeowner
- Insurance Business Liability
- Insurance Auto
- Insurance Motorcycle
Binder Three – Estate Planning (Legal Documents, Binding Under State Law)
- Living Trust Agreement
- Certificate of Trust
- Pour Over Will (California)
- Power of Attorney
- Healthcare Directives
- Funding Instructions
- Trust Assets
- Pet Instructions
- Personal Information
- Personal Effects
- Memorial Instructions
- Other Documents (and location)
A copy of the first two binders to be held at a separate location with the primary emergency contact/trustee (in case the house one was destroyed by fire, for example), and updated regularly.
This could be a thumb drive full of photos of each of the important pages, with each shot carefully named so as to be identifiable. A copy of the thumb drive would be held by the primary trustee for security.
It will take a while to get the binders and categories sorted out but once done, use them as a repository for everything and switch out the new insurance certificates etc. as you get them – while checking when the next one is due!
It is possible to do this digitally, but it is suggested that it should be hard copy as master copies come this way and it is safer than a digital file – which could be erased, made in a software that becomes redundant, etc.
Once these binders are in a document safe (obtained from an office supply shop and reasonably fire retardant) all that is needed is to give the location and combination of this, plus a spare key, to a local friend/trustee so everything is available to them in case of an emergency.
This is a time-consuming project to compile and results in a bulky item. It will save you time and effort in an emergency situation however. Take the time to designate which items you would take in a bug out situation via car or walking!