Financial Preparedness in a Disaster

It is never the wrong time to prepare for an emergency. That is why the Independent Community Bankers of America offer tips to help consumers get their financial documents in order, in case a natural disaster were to occur.

While the first priority is the safety of you and your family, knowing that your banking documents and private financial information are safe gives you one less thing to worry about during stressful times. Natural disasters of any kind quickly remind us how important it is to be organized and have a plan ahead of time. Having a financial preparedness plan will protect you and your family from the long-term effects of damaged, destroyed or lost financial documents.

Utilize the following tips to help prepare financial information:

®Keep marriage licenses, birth certificates, adoption papers, property deeds, wills, insurance policies, passports, Social Security cards, car titles or lease contracts, bank and investment account numbers and three years of tax returns in a bank safe-deposit box. Put each of these documents in a sealed plastic bag to keep out moisture.

®Make and safeguard additional official copies of critical documents and notify a trustee, close relative or attorney where your important financial information is located.

®Keep names and contact numbers for executors, trustees, and guardians in a safe place, either in your safe deposit box or with a close relative.

®Take an inventory and keep a list of household valuables. Taking photographs of these items can help as well.

®Include extra cash, preferably small bills, in your home emergency kit, which should include a three-day supply of water and food, a first aid kit, a manual can opener, flashlights, a radio and extra batteries.

®Secure online data storage, which can serve as a supplement or backup to paper copies. Scanned or other electronic documents can be uploaded with secure online backup services.

If you and your family have concerns about financial preparedness, community bankers can help get your financial documents in order and discuss any questions you might have.

(Burdick is a commercial loan officer at United Community Bank, member FDIC)