What’s In Your Go-Bag?

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Prepared bag

With the summer season nearly upon us, many people already have their bags packed for a great family vacation. But have you packed your most important bag – your go-bag?

Financial Security Go-Bag

Disaster preparedness experts recommend that everyone pack a “go-bag” – that bag you pack with necessities to help you and your family survive in a natural disaster. But what about a bag to help your family survive a more localized disaster – the incapacity or death of a family member?

We’ve all heard or experienced the story – a relative becomes sick, incapacitated or worse. Where do they do their banking? Account numbers? Do they have a safety deposit box? Who has access? Do they have retirement or investment accounts? The list goes on and on, and you sift through the mail in an attempt to reconstruct their financial life.

The modern age of mobile banking, online account access and information security makes it harder to track the information down. So where does one start?

Get Organized

First, gather up your banking, investment, insurance and financial records. Whether you put this in a computer document or a three-ring binder, try to store your records and information in a centralized location for family members.

You should file basic information including name, address, birthdate, Social Security number (you’ll need this to file for any benefits), maiden name, employer information and military information. Keep files for tax and banking records, including the name of the institution, account numbers and safety deposit box information, such as who has access and a copy of the key.

Important records to have include investment and retirement documents, real estate documents, vehicle records and debt records as well as copies of estate information plus information on digital account access.

Next Steps

Take a moment and congratulate yourself on taking the personal responsibility to pull all of this together. Let your family know you’ve done this and the location of the information.
Next, make sure you keep the information up to date. Life happens and things change.

Lastly, take steps to secure your information – whether in an electronic format or on paper. While priceless to your family, it’s a treasure trove for someone looking to do you financial harm.

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