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Preparedness Quick Tip #22: Get Your Affairs in Order

It’s the end of the year, and the time when we begin to think about organizing and wrapping up lose ends of the business stuff. It’s also when we begin to look ahead at those things that we want to accomplish in the coming year. Here’s a Quick Tip for you – Get Your Affairs in Order – Wrap Up that Paperwork – Organize Your Life.

PQT #22 - Get your affairs in order. Read more at Momwithaprep.com

Being prepared just isn’t about some zombie apocalypse that may never happen. It’s also about being making sure that everyday things in your life are done so that if there is an emergency for you and your family, you can handle it! And those everyday emergencies are generally much more likely to happen than a horde of zombies taking over your town. If that isn’t the case, you might really want to consider moving to a safer town!

Scenario #1: One day, when you least expect it, you die. I know, it’s a scary thing to think about, but it will happen to all of us at some point.

Are you prepared to leave this life and know that your family is well taken care of, not only with money, but with the end of life business that has to happen?

Scenario #2: A call for an immediate, mandatory evacuation happens because a power plant blew up in your neighborhood, and there are safety concerns for fire, pollution, and safety. (Look at what happened in West, Texas last year)

Are you prepared to leave your home at a moment’s notice with all the necessary documentation of your life to be able to rebuild?

Scenario #3: An accident leaves you incapable of making medical, financial and legal decisions for yourself.

Are you prepared with a Living Will, a Power of Attorney, a Medical Power of Attorney, and all the other documentation that makes it easier on your family to know your wishes and be able to carry them out?

 

Documentation you need to have in order to be set for life or death:

Will – Even if you don’t have much stuff to deal with, a will makes it to where your family does not have to wait through probate in most states. It’s specific about what you want to happen to your assets, and allows you to set up how your children will be taken care of in the even of your death.

Power of Attorney – both for financial/legal matters and for medical matters, a POA allows your family members to be able to make those decisions for you that you may no longer be able to make.

Living Will – This is not the same as a Medical Power of Attorney, but a document that spells out, specifically, what your wishes are of how you’d like to be taken care of in the event that those decisions need to be made. While the Medical Power of Attorney gives your designee the authority to make those things happen, the Living Will spells out, specifically, what YOU want to have happen.

Government Documentation – Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, Driver’s Licenses, etc. Make sure you have copies in your stash and accessible for your family in a case of need. You can keep hard copies in a fireproof box as part of your emergency kit, you can keep copies on a thumb drive, and you can keep copies in a safe deposit box or with friends/relatives.

Bank Account and Credit Accounts and Utilities – Having these in order, with information readily available for your family members to retrieve if the time comes they must make decisions and handle issues. Have beneficiaries named to any account that needs them, make sure you’ve named someone to act on your behalf if the time comes (though a Power of Attorney generally takes care of that for you across the board).

Most of the legal forms can be done without a lawyer if they are not involved. Try a site like Legal Zoom for creating the documents online, or get a Make Your Own Will kit and file them yourself. If you have a complicated issue (children, assets), you will have to get a lawyer to help file, but it doesn’t have to cost a ton. Shop around and check for the legal factors in your state.

These files aren’t only good to have in the case of your death, but in the case of life as well. Emergencies you least expect can crop up at any time, and having your paperwork in order will help make your survival much easier if you’ve got all of your paperwork in order.

Don’t leave this til later. Your family will thank you.

Personal Note: This past week, we experienced the death of a family member that has broken our heart. I am the responsible party for her estate, which means I had to make all of the arrangements for her funeral that weren’t already pre-planned, I had to contact all of the government agents involved in her care, I’ve had to close accounts, file for insurance, and will eventually have to contact the lawyer to close out the estate. While semi-nightmarish to have to do it, I’m so thankful that she left those things done for me ahead of time. She has a will, she set up the Power of Attorney ahead of time, she updated her Life Insurance when circumstances called for a new beneficiary to be named, she had her funeral pre-arranged and paid for, except for a few minor details. I hated to make all the phone calls that had to be made from an emotional side, but I will be forever grateful to her for making that part easier than it might have been.

My goal for 2014 is to have ALL of our affairs in order now, even though we’re still young (-ish), still in good health (-ish), and have no real need to begin to worry about those things. In the case of minor personal emergencies or wide spread emergencies, having these things in order will give us peace of mind that it will make things easier on the other side – whether for us in rebuilding our lives after a disaster, or our families trying to rebuild theirs if we should pass.

To see other Preparedness Quick Tips:

Emergency Quick Tips from Mom with a Prep Blog

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