The unpredictable can occur at any time: fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, pandemics—you name it. Because September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, we want you to be prepared for whatever life throws at you. Although none of us can predict the future, there are some things you can do through proper estate planning to ensure that you and your family are ready. Here are a few questions to consider to help protect the people and possessions you value most.
- Are your documents secure? When trouble occurs, your documents must be ready. It is therefore critical that your important legal documents be kept secure in a weatherproof safe or container. Likewise, documents regarding property ownership and identity should be stored away from exposure to dangerous elements such as fire, floods, and wind. When the dust settles, you will need your important paperwork and legal documents to help get you through difficult times.
- Are your documents up to date? Consider whether your estate planning documents reflect your reality. One unfortunate but common mistake is the failure to keep important documents current. People often forget to periodically review and update their documents after receiving them. As a result, outdated estate planning documents frequently cause confusion because they describe a situation that is no longer applicable.
- Do people know where to find your documents? As you try to prepare for the unpredictable, making your important documents accessible is crucial. Having plans in place are of little value if no one can find them. There are a number of ways you can provide accessibility without significantly impacting security. A simple option is to keep the original documents in your home in a location you have disclosed to another family member, and keep a copy of the documents at a location other than your home in case your home is inaccessible. You can also utilize technology to help provide accessibility by having digital copies available to you regardless of where you may be.
- Is your insurance adequate and current? Insurance is a tool that must be monitored and maintained as your family and wealth change. In preparing for the unexpected, review your insurance policy to make sure it adequately covers you, your family, and your possessions in the event of a crisis. If you have previously witnessed natural disasters or emergencies, these experiences can provide valuable insight to help you ensure that your policies will protect you against the recurrence of these events. For example, because many of us who live in Texas have been negatively impacted by recent hurricanes and flooding, now may be the time to better understand, update, or upgrade their flood insurance.
- Should you have a rider on your existing insurance policy? You may not be familiar with insurance riders, but incorporating riders allows you to customize and maximize your protection. Insurance riders provide additional flexibility and features to your current insurance policy with options that provide various levels of value depending upon your lifestyle and needs. For example, many policies offer a “waiver of premium” rider that creates a mechanism for continued payment of insurance premiums in the event you become disabled and are no longer able to make the payments. This means that your insurance coverage will not lapse due to your disability. Exploring the available rider options can ensure that you have customized a plan into something that works for you and your unique situation.
Disasters and emergencies are inevitable. National Disaster Preparedness Month reminds us that we can plan for any number of potential events, but we cannot always predict when or how they will impact us. By proactively asking yourself these questions, you will be better positioned to remain calm and focused in the midst of a crisis.
Learn more about updating your estate plan at https://www.galliganmanning.com/when-to-update-your-estate-plan/.