Archived Story

Financial preparation for natural disasters

Published 9:47am Tuesday, June 21, 2011

By WAYNE CURTIS / Guest Columnist

The recent flurry of devastating tornadoes that swept across Alabama and other parts of the nation illustrates that natural disasters are always a threat. And we need to do everything we can to be prepared for them.

In view of the potential for natural disasters, there are several things to keep in mind to get your financial house in order. Becoming aware of these tips make it easier to deal with the aftermath of a natural disaster.

The most important financial consideration is safekeeping your important records. These include marriage records, property deeds, birth certificates, wills, insurance policies, passports, Social Security cards, immunization records, credit card account numbers, car titles, bank and investment account numbers and at least three years of tax records. Place these in a zip-lock bag and put them in a safe deposit box.

You also need to identify the records that you maintain only on your computer. Since they may not be available if there is an electrical power failure, print these records and safeguard them.

Once you have safeguarded all your important records, notify a trustee, close relative, or an attorney of the location of them. At the same time, remember to keep names and contact numbers for executors, trustees, and guardians in a safe place, possibly in a safe deposit box or with a close relative.

Remember to start and regularly contribute to an emergency fund for three to four months worth of living expenses. Keep this fund separate from your checking, savings or investment accounts.

Finally, establish an emergency kit. Make sure it contains some extra cash, a three-day supply of water, food, a first-aid kit, flashlight, radio and extra batteries.

We, of course, cannot prevent natural disasters. But we can plan for them. Having a financial plan in place can greatly improve our ability to regain peace of mind when they occur.

Wayne Curtis, Ph.D., is on the board of directors of First United Security Bank.  He may be reached at wc_curtis@yahoo.com.

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