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Be Prepared: 3 Emergency Documents
Everyone Should Have On Hand

When you’re struggling to navigate a crisis situation, you’re likely to be at your least organized, yet this is precisely when people seem to be requesting a lot of information from you. This can be nightmarish, especially if you’re incapacitated and unable to do much for yourself. Luckily, there are preemptive steps you can take to make sure everything you might need is in order.

While every situation is unique, if you’ve already put these three types of legal documents in order and put them in a safe place, it’s more likely that someone will be able to provide all the key information needed to care for you and protect your interests.

Write a Will

Many people associate writing a will with other types of end-of-life planning, or at least consider it something that doesn’t require much attention until you have children and significant assets. This isn’t actually the case, though. In most states, you can draw up a will once you turn 18, and while it might not make sense to do so immediately, most adults can benefit from carefully considering their wishes. Drawing up a will can also give you the push you need to consider other issues, like who you want to hold medical power of attorney if you can’t make healthcare decisions for yourself.

Organize Your Insurance

In most emergency situations, you may not be incapacitated, but you will be frazzled, and the last thing you’ll want to do is hunt down a variety of insurance documents. For example, if you’re involved in a car accident, a common situation that can lead to results as varied as a few bruises and abrasions to brain and spinal injuries or even death, the most likely outcome is that you’ll experience a variety of mild to moderate injuries. But, while being treated for those injuries, you’ll also need to provide health and car insurance information. If you file these insurance documents, along with home or renters insurance or any other policies you hold, it will be easier to find and provide this information when you need it.

Planning For Your Family

If you’re a parent, you have to put much more consideration into emergency situations than you might as a single adult. Specifically, you need to make sure you’re adequately planning for your child’s care and well-being if you’re unable to be there for them. This means establishing who will have guardianship of your child if you are seriously injured or ill and can’t care for them, as well as who would adopt them if they were orphaned. No one wants to think about these things, but the fact is that not thinking about these issues is worse, and you owe it to your children to make sure that their needs are never overlooked.

There are other important legal documents, like advanced care directives, property deeds and titles, birth certificates, and marriage licenses that should be held in an appropriate place, such as in a safe deposit box or in the care of your attorney, but the main matter of importance is simply getting started. As you organize the key legal documents that structure your life, you’ll begin to see the gaps where there’s something else you need to attend to. And, ultimately, that’s the goal – to put your life in perspective and to be prepared for anything that might happen.

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