Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst
Last time we touched on documents to have and files to make in the unlikely event there is a fire or flood in your home. No one ever likes to think about the bad, but it is necessary to prepare for emergencies. Protect yourself and your investments by gathering information and storing in a safe place.
There is more than one school of thought on how documents should be stored. Of course, keeping wills, deeds, insurance papers, passports, credit cards and the like are best stored in a fireproof safe. Yet, how to protect those documents takes on two different perspectives. To protect important documents from water damage place them in plastic storage bags. Yet, the plastic will melt in a fire, still damaging the documents. Tough decision, right? Check the documentation for your particular safe to find out how it protects contents during water and fire.
For household appliances and valuables, create a book listing each item. Take photos of each item and include the purchase date and price. This will help when asking for replacement costs from your insurance company. Some valuables to include are electronic equipment, appliances, tools, silver, jewelry, and furs. You may have a separate rider policy for jewelry and furs, but a list of these items will ensure that you are reimbursed for everything. After a catastrophic event, it will be hard to think of everything that needs to be done, so being prepared is key to getting your life back to normal as quickly as possible.
This book doesn’t have to be a hard copy. Computers are great at storing information and keeping it readily available. Have an electronic folder to list household items and store photos for each room. Scan owner’s manuals and receipts for big ticket items into your computer, which will not only help with replacement, but free up storage space. Computers are incredibly reliable, but not fool proof. They can crash and take all your files with them, so store an extra list offsite. An external hard drive, USB thumb drive or SD card is one way, but you will still need to store in a secure place. Consider an online backup source which allows access to files from any computer, anywhere.
Photos are great, video is even better. Most digital cameras today will take photos and record video, so consider taking a video of each room in your home for accurate notation of your precious items. One of a kind artwork may not be duplicated, but can be replaced with accurate documentation. Have these items appraised a copy included in your documentation.
Don’t forget clothing and shoes, linens and other decorative items. While a detailed list of every shirt and pair of shoes is not necessary, having a tally of how many suits you own can be helpful, especially if wearing one is mandated by your employer. This is your uniform and necessary for success.
Let someone you trust know where you have stored all this vital information. Keep a running list of all your user names and passwords for any bank, investment, and stock accounts you hold. Change them about once a year and store, possibly in a safe deposit box at a financial institution. Include a copy of your will, deed to your home, and valuables that you prefer not to store in your home. While no one likes to think of these things, in the event of a tragedy, you and those who love will you will be prepared and grateful during rough times.