When Natural Disasters Strike: How To Protect Your Estate Planning Documents
1. Backup Records Digitally. In today’s world, most people receive bank statements via email, which is an easy way to secure your records. You can also scan those statements, as well as your legal documents, tax records, insurance policies and medical records onto a USB drive, external hard drive or upload to a cloud-based platform such as Google Drive. If you choose to keep your important documents on a USB or hard drive, make sure to keep them protected. A fire-proof safe is always a great investment.
2. Document Your Valuables. I suggest taking photos or videos of the valuables in your home or business. These graphic records can help you prove the value of any destroyed or lost items. Additionally, photos and videos may help with insurance claims or casualty loss deductions on your tax return. You can store them with a non-local friend or relative for safe-keeping or upload them to a cloud-based platform.
3. Update Emergency Plans. Review your emergency plans every year.. Your personal and professional situation may change over time, so update your plans as your situation changes. Make sure you have a way to get severe weather notifications and have a strategy for the actions you must take in that situation. Furthermore, when employers hire new employees or when a business undergoes a major change, plans should be updated as accordingly and employees should be informed of the new changes.
4. Obtain Copies of Legal Documents and Tax Returns. Use Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, to replace lost or damaged tax returns or if you need information from your return. You can also file Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return. Your financial advisor should be able to help if you need assistance filling out any forms. Also make sure to obtain copies of important legal documents including your Last Will & Testament, Trusts, Advanced Directives, etc.
5. Complete Digital Assets Worksheets. At Kira Doyle Law, all of our clients receive a Digital Assets Worksheet at their document signing appointment. This Worksheet will prove to be extremely helpful as it allows you to fill out your contact information, online passwords, bank account information, etc. in the event that anything is ever lost in a disaster. Please call us today at 727-537-6818 should you have any questions on the documentation you should have prepared or protected in case of an emergency.