Oh no! How do we pay the bills? Where are the passwords? Who do we need to contact? What are the policy numbers?
A sudden illness causes loved ones to scramble. It can be as simple as how do I know if the mortgage is being paid to where is the policy information for a long term care need.
If you are like many of us, that information is in your head. If you are single, you may be the only one who knows this information. Who have you told where those simple things are to make sure the electricity bill gets paid when you cannot do it yourself? If you are a couple, you might divide the chores – one knows where the long-term money is, the other knows how to pay the monthly bills, but neither of you really know where all that information is. Never mind if a child might need to step in and find these things when you’re unable to do the work yourself.
One of the best ways to help your loved ones in what can be a super stressful time, is to have an In Case of Emergency list – a one-stop source of key contacts and account details in a single place where you have told a loved one to look – and also a place where they would be likely to look if they become forgetful during a stressful event.
While many of the categories on our sample list are self-explanatory. Here are some key points to keep in mind.
Keeper of the Passwords. Have someone who knows where that list of passwords is tucked away or the password to your password file or password management system. In this modern era of online accounts (combined with privacy laws), having someone who can help you access those accounts removes a huge burden.
Key Accounts. Maintain a list of your accounts – both the ones that hold your money and the ones that you pay bills to each month. You don’t want the electricity turned off because no one knew how to access cash or knew where to pay the bill. Mark those that are set up to automatically pay from a credit card or bank account and others that people need to keep an eye on to pay each month.
Key Contacts. Maintain a list of your key advisers – lawyer, financial planner, etc. While it is in a document, identifying who has power of attorney and who is a designated executor stops the guessing game of the who is in charge of what aspect during a time of emergency.
Keep your vital documents in one, safe location that key people can find. A fire-safe box is a very convenient place. A bank safety deposit box is a more secure place to keep documents, but make sure your key people know how to access that. Vital documents include wills, powers of attorney, health care directives, and titles to your home and vehicles. Important records include birth certificates, adoption certificates, marriage certificates, divorce documents, social security cards, death certificates, and military records. Copies of passports and credit cards are useful as well.
You have already put in the hard work to create a strong financial plan. Take that one step further and organize all of your information in one place so you have calmed the panic of how to keep things going when you can’t do it yourself for your loved ones during an otherwise stressful time.
Find our version of the In Case of Emergency (ICE) Plan document here.