In Case of Emergency- How to Plan

Talking about emergencies, sudden illnesses and death won’t kill you but most people avoid the difficulty of initiating this conversation with loved ones. In our death- denying society, wouldn’t you like to avoid it all together? On the contrary, acknowledging these realities can prepare and protect your family in financial and non-financial ways and ultimately give your family peace of mind! Once these safeguards are in place, regularly update this information when a transition like a move, divorce, incapacity or death occurs. Finally, pay close attention to your various representatives. Can this person effectively act on your behalf as emergency contact/ power of attorney/ executor? 

1.Add vital information to your smart phone in case personnel like police or paramedics need to access it in time of emergency. While some phones allow a user to store this critical information in settings, specialized apps such as EMF- Emergency Medcial Form or Control Your Health perform similar functionality. Information should include: name, address, contact information for one or two emergency contacts, medical conditions, and allergies. Likewise, an ‘old school’ trick would be to create an emergency card with similar information and place in wallet alongside other cards like medical insurance and identification. 

  1. Have estate planning documents in place (will, trust, powers of attorney, living will) and DISCUSS your wishes with your desgnated representatives. While some people have this conversation informally, others schedule a more formal ‘family meeting’ to discuss ‘final wishes’. 
  2. Create a checklist with names of documents and locations to be found. If a safety deposit box or safe holds these documents, make sure detailed instructions on how to access these secure places are available to your trusted representatives.

4.. Gather names and contact information of trusted advisors, family members, and others needed in case of emergency and include in a resource guide, which can vary its complexity from a barebones file found on your computer to an online platform, like Everplans. Several printed versions are available as well. 

5.. Leave a trail of personal and household information including online accounts/ passwords, and copies of utility/ phone bills for account numbers. Designate the intended recipients for personal property, including favorite charities. Ideally, this information is included in the resource guide mentioned earlier.

  1. Ask for help! From do-it- yourself guides to the assistance of a professional organizer, resources abound for putting together your emergency plan.