Readers Digest quoted me on how to effectively plan in case of emergency. Emergency situations are challenging enough. Being organized in terms of your financial affairs can help to alleviate some of the stress. Nancy Doyle recommends that everyone create an ICE – in case of emergency – file and plan. An ICE file contains important documents that are easily accessible to you or to someone acting on your behalf. An ICE plan includes key contacts and financial account information. Check out the full article below.
Do This Now: How to Create a Simple In-Case-of-Emergency File and Plan
Understand the goal
Imagine a family member falls ill and is unable to pay her bills, contact her lawyer, or locate her social security card. You’re called on to step in. Wouldn’t it be helpful if all of these documents, contacts, and instructions were rounded up in one place? That’s the goal of an ICE file and plan. “When life throws you a curve, being organized is important,” says Nancy Doyle, CFA, author of the forthcoming book, Manage Your Financial Life. “Our financial lives are very complex and with privacy laws the way they are it can be very difficult to access a loved one’s email and accounts if there’s an emergency.”
Round up your paperwork
Your ICE file is a physical binder or box containing all of your important documents. You’ll want to include birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, military records, social security cards, and any other official record that might be relevant in your absence. Essential legal documents should also be included: Your will, power of attorney, health care directive, mortgage, and the titles for your home and car.
Store your file safely
Now that you’ve created your file, you’ll want to keep it someplace safe. Doyle says there are two options here: a fireproof box you keep in your home or a safety deposit box at the bank. This is what you might not have known about home safety.
Tell someone where the file is located
Create a list of key people, say your spouse or partner, children, the executor of your estate, and the person who holds your power of attorney, and tell them where your ICE file is located and how to access it. If a key is required, make copies.
Formulate a plan
Now that you’ve created a file of important documents, it’s time to create a plan that explains how everything works. Again, it’s crucial that this plan exists before an emergency happens. (Related: These are the things your tax planner won’t tell you.)
Create an emergency contact list
Begin by listing the names and phone numbers for your banker, lawyer, investment adviser, insurance agent, and accountant. Doyle recommends using an Excel spreadsheet for this step. That way, you can neatly organize the person’s name, role, contact information, and any notes you might have.
Create a list of accounts
Develop a list of your bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and investments, along with details on where they are located, the account number, and notes.
Leave instructions for bill payments
Make a list of bills that are on automatic pay, and which accounts they are attached to. This important step will make ensure your key people can handle your paperwork in your absence. This is how to improve your credit score.
Share your email password with a trusted family member
Especially in chaotic times of emergency, important information could come in through email. “Personally I use a password management system and give the master password to a key person,” says Doyle.
Stay up to date
Doyle recommends doing a financial spring-cleaning once a year. During this time you will organize your bank accounts, investments, loans, and other paperwork. You should also take a minute to review your ICE file and plan, and make sure everything is up to date.
Walk someone through your plan
Gather your key people and review your plan annually. That way, those involved have a periodic reminder of the file’s location and instructions, and can help you fill in any information they notice might be missing.
Originally published here: