THE PREPAREDNESS PAPERS
The information in the "Preparedness Papers" is FREE. Each "paper" has a PRINT button, so you can print and reference them "offline" as needed.
"What can I actually do?Small is Beautiful,
We can, each of us, work to put our own house in order."
by E. F. Schumacher
The ability to prove ownership of your bank account(s), safety deposit box, business, brokerage, and investment accounts may be necessary after a natural disaster or other calamity destroys the bank, credit union, brokerage or other financial records. Also, since having proof of ownership will allow you to maintain your real property rights, provide qualification for your earned benefits, or provide continuing rights to the use of physical property, it is well worth the effort it takes to amass the information and organize it so it's readily available.
It is most important that all members of the family know where the family's personal records, documentation of ownership, and other financial papers and records are kept. They must also know to whom to turn for advice in case the primary responsible individual becomes incapable of directing family activities. Planning ahead by having these forms and papers readily available can save a great deal of agony, anguish, time, and money – especially when an emergency or other unpleasantness causes debility, disablement, or death in the family.
Keep the originals of all your important forms in a safe deposit box at the bank or in another secure, private, accessible, safe place away from your home. The following pages detail how you can establish a system for safeguarding your family's personal and financial information. This information may be invaluable to prove your ownership, provide access to earned benefits – and maybe even protect your life! This is an exercise of prudence, practicality, and providence!
THE FAMILY PREPAREDNESS HOUSEHOLD NOTEBOOK
Note: the wide margins – make notes and use the space for your questions, ideas, and plans to make certain your future is as secure as possible.
Make up a Household Preparedness Notebook using the worksheets provided in this chapter to collect and maintain your family's critical information in a single volume. This Notebook provides a designated place to keep copies of important and updated records and is available on short notice to be carried with the family in the event of an emergency. Make certain each responsible family member knows where it is kept, and that it is a most important item to retrieve on a moment's notice, when circumstances require.
Note: The gathering of information suggested in these charts is more than an exercise of prudence and practicality; it might very well prove to be providential!
Prepare a safe place to keep this Notebook with its documents and papers. This Notebook will help you keep all your updated records in one place. Use top-loading plastic sheet protectors for the documents, with index dividers to identify the categories. Insert sheets of data and documents in a large, well-organized, loose-leaf notebook, so extra pages can be added as needed. Revise all information as needed to keep your data current.
Supplies for the Household Preparedness Notebook are available at office supply and discount stores. The cost for a notebook and supplies should not exceed $10 to $20, depending on the amount and quality of materials selected, and should include the following items and accessories:
Use the forms provided in this chapter to collect and maintain family vital statistics, ancestor history (genealogy), and financial records. Examples of important documents that you will want to copy for your Household Preparedness Notebook include the following:
Family documents – birth, adoption, marriage, and death certificates
Relatives to contact (local and out of area)
Social Security cards and entitlements
Medical records (especially prescription medications and eyeglasses)
Tax returns (minimum 3 years)
Personal insurance policies
Contents of safe deposit box
Property and household items inventory (photographs and videotapes)
Banking and money accounts (3 years)
Record of credit / debit cards (3 years)
Titles to equipment and property
Property insurance policies
Deeds to properties and equipment
Stocks, bonds, certificates, and other financial instruments
Additional documents relative to your personal needs
Stash of cash – bills in small denominations and silver coins
Should you have an emergency need for any of these documents in the future, they'll be easily found and immediately available to help resolve problems and give you peace of mind. This is a vital part of being prepared. It requires discipline and attention to detail. This record is the summation of your life's work, so do this task with a view of protecting your estate for the future.
Additionally, keep a small amount of money in small bills and quarters, dimes, and nickels inside a pocket of this Notebook – at least enough to make a few telephone calls or perhaps "influence" someone to do what they would have done under normal conditions.
Chance favors the prepared mind.
Reality rewards the truly pre-pared.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and deal with what comes.
SUGGESTIONS FOR GETTING ORGANIZED
Resolve to get organized now – get started and just do it! It's really much easier than searching for lost records in mountainous piles of old bills, tax forms, receipts, and hand-me-down recipes when you're under pressure of time and need! The following ideas and suggestions are intended to help you accomplish the task ahead.
Keep only copies in your home notebook. Always protect originals in a safe environment. Moisture, temperature, and exposure to light, causes deterioration of paper, cloth, and wood items.
Rent and use a safe-deposit box in a bank, credit union, savings and loan, or privately operated business. Place in the safe deposit box the originals of important individual and family documents, inventory lists, and photos/videos of property and possessions. Use the box to store copies of wills and trusts, partnership agreements, and other legal documents. Store valuables, including certificates for stocks and bonds, infrequently used jewelry, and a list (photos are better, videotapes are best!) of expensive and rare jewelry, antique furniture, silver dinner sets, or works of art, also.
Waterproof all documents and other items subject to water damage. Sprinklers can go off accidentally, and floodwaters can rise – even in a vault!
Fireproof your vital information. You can find used fireproof safes at most places where safes are sold or repaired. Used safes may cost as little as 10% of new units – and are just as safe!
Review and discard outdated documents periodically. How long should you keep those voluminous records? In the table following are guidelines to help you determine periods of recommended storage for various forms and documents:
Chart 1 - Records Retention & Storage Chart
Federal, state, and local jurisdiction tax laws change often! This information is for reference only. Seek the advice of a qualified tax professional in your local area for current requirements.
Create an in-home business/records center for your preparedness endeavors. In addition to organizing your household information and records, you will find that the effort of planning, budgeting, searching, shopping, and aggregating a year's supply of foods and other items will itself be a sizeable in-home business-like venture.
The difference between having your financial records neat and well maintained on the one hand or what we call a people-caused (or perhaps a personal) disaster on the other is usually a matter of simple organization. No genius is required – just a moderate amount of meaningful work. The benefit is that you'll spend less time looking for a canceled check, having anxiety attacks over misplaced receipts or perhaps an important stock certificate, or days gathering information for your annual tax return.
The real work is in the creation of the system. Once you've created the system, you'll save many hours in the day-to-day management of your business and financial matters. So, you can create a system, buy a system from a business supply store, get computer software, or combine some of these suggestions. Here are some basic organizing tips utilized as we have tried to gain better control of the paperwork flow in our own lives.
If you haven't established an in-home business center, get a small desk, some office supplies and at least a 2-drawer file cabinet for your preparedness "business." Keep in this desk the materials that you use almost daily:
Use the file cabinet to store materials and documents you use less frequently. Use folder systems with tabs in both the desk and the file cabinet. It makes filing and finding records easier. Set up folders with categories for the types of items you need for reference and follow-up with an alphabetical file and a 1-31 date file for your important events. Typical folders to keep in your desk:
Typical folders to keep in your file cabinet:
Have a cash disbursements journal – you probably already have one as your checkbook is a record of what you've disbursed (paid) for goods and services. Your disbursements journal can be as sophisticated, complicated, or as simple as you like. There are a number of computerized programs for recording and organizing financial data, and it is well worth the price to have one and use it to analyze your financial position on a timely basis.
Also, keep a record of cash receipts, or at least a cash receipts journal. Why would you want to keep a record of receipts? A record allows you to look back at any time and determine who paid you how much, what, and when. At the end of the year, you can use the journal to double-check, for example, that you received all your dividend checks from a particular mutual fund, or all interest payments on a certificate of deposit. You could also, if you wanted, add a series of columns for the types of receipts you anticipate during the year: dividends, interest, rent, bonuses, etc. to help with your budget, as well as your cash flow.
To be aware of what income you receive, record these minimum details:
WORKSHEETS FOR ORGANIZING INFORMATION
The following chart identifies the worksheets available for use in organizing your entire family's information, if you have not done so already. These worksheets will guide you in accounting for your individual and family information, as well as the family's financial assets and liabilities. They are grouped to help you organize your collection of valuable documents and facilitate their safeguarding. Please take time to review these worksheets, and then begin to enter the requested information in an orderly manner.
CATEGORY 2. FAMILY INFORMATION
Worksheet 2A – Family Members
Worksheet 2B – Individual Family Member Records
Worksheet 2C – Location of Family Documents
Worksheet 2C – Location of Family Documents (Continued)
Worksheet 2C – Location of Family Documents (Continued)
CATEGORY 3. PERSONAL INSURANCE
Worksheet 3A – Life Insurance
Worksheet 3B – Health & Hospitalization Insurance
Worksheet 3C – Accident & Disability Insurance
CATEGORY 4. FINANCIAL RECORDS
Worksheet 4A – Banking Accounts
Worksheet 4B – Financial Advisors
Worksheet 4C – Contents of Safety Deposit Box
Additional sheets may be added as needed. A copy should be made for each responsible member of the family.
Worksheet 4D – Record of Credit & Debit Cards
Worksheet 4E – Record of Debts
Worksheet 4F – Record of Money Owed to Us
Worksheet 4G – Record of Personal Property Loaned to Others
Worksheet 4H – Equities in Stocks, Mutual Funds, Treasuries, & Corporate Bonds
Worksheet 4I – Precious Metals & Other Investments
CATEGORY 5. REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY
Worksheet 5A – Real Estate & Property Insurance
(Automobiles, trucks, boats, & any personal property requiring title or insurance as a condition of use or ownership)
Worksheet 5B – Property & Household Inventory
(Copy this page as needed to complete your property & household inventory.) Page _____ of _____
Additional sheets may be added. Copy this page as needed to complete your inventory.
A property and household inventory will be extremely helpful in determining how much insurance coverage is needed to protect your investments. The inventory also furnishes a valid record on which to base claims should a loss occur. One method of inventorying your house-hold goods is by going through the house, room by room, closets, bathrooms, attic, basement, and any other storage space, and tag all possessions with a "sticky label", item by item, until everything you own is accounted for, identified, and all values determined. Another method is to take photographs, identifying with details on the back of the photos, appropriate inventory and purchase dates, costs, or current price, and/or value at time of purchase. It's easier to make an audio recording to describe the photos. An easier method is to record your possessions on video. Include everything on the walls, in the closets, items in the garage, and personal jewelry – anything that has value. It is so easy to do – if you don't own a video system, you can borrow or rent one for a weekend. Include verbal descriptions and personal details as you record the items. Where known, clearly state the date of purchase and cost of each item. Estimate values if exact figures are not known. Keep sales receipts for substantial purchases. Record current market value and the current date. Current market value is the amount you could get if you sold the item now to a willing buyer. Be sure to include food storage and preparedness items in your household inventory. If you detail what you own, and have the facts duly recorded, you have proof of ownership. Regardless of method used to inventory your possessions, place either the recorded original or a copy in a safe deposit box, if possible.
Worksheet 5C – Photos & Videos of Property & Household Items
Worksheet 5D – Real Estate & Property Descriptions
Worksheet 5E – Real Estate Financials
Worksheet 5F – Major Home Improvements
Proof of purchase price and receipted bills for improvements are located at:
CATEGORY 6. BUSINESS INFORMATION
Worksheet 6A – Business Interests
Telephone: _________________________________________ Fax: ___________________________________________________________________
Date of Employment: _______________ Name of Immediate Supervisor: _____________________________________________________________
Sole Proprietor/Partner/Owner of Business:
Name of Business: _________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Type of Business: Sole proprietorship __________ Partnership ____________ Corporation ____________________________________________
Business partner(s): ________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Home address: ______________________________________________ Tel. ___________________________________________________________
Partnership agreement? Yes_______ No _______ Date Filed: ______________________________________________________________________
Partnership (Buy-sell agreement) insurance? Yes _____ No _____ Date Filed: ________________________________________________________
Copies of contracts & policies location: ________________________________________________________________________________________
Instructions for supervision or sale of business are located at: ____________________________________________________________________
ACCOUNTANT: ______________________________________________________ Tel. _________________________________________________
ATTORNEY: _________________________________________________________ Tel. _________________________________________________
BUSINESS CONSULTANT: _____________________________________________Tel. _________________________________________________
BUSINESS ASSOCIATE: _______________________________________________ Tel. _______________________________________________
ASSOCIATE: _________________________________________________________ Tel. _______________________________________________
Worksheet 6B– Business Property Insurance
CATEGORY 7. GUIDELINES FOR SURVIVORS
Worksheet 7– Final Disposition Information & Guidelines
My name is: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
first middle/maiden last
When I die, please contact: ________________________________________________________________________________________________
address phone #
My important papers are located at: _______________________________________________________________________________________
Information for Death Certificate & Filing for Death Benefits
My address is _________________________________________________________________________________________________________
street city county state zip code
Citizen of _____________________ Birthplace _____________________________ Date of Birth _____________________________________
Social Security Number _____ - ____ - _____ Occupation/type of business: ______________________________________________________
Veteran of: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
branch of service serial number rank
date & place entered service date discharged
I was: □ married □ never married □ widowed □ separated □ divorced □ remarried
Spouse's full (maiden) name: ___________________________________________________________________________________________
Name of next of kin (other than spouse): __________________________ Relationship: ____________________________________________
Father's full name and birthplace: _______________________________________________________________________________________
Mother's maiden name and birthplace: ___________________________________________________________________________________
Siblings: names and birthplaces: ________________________________________________________________________________________
Preferences After Death:
□ Autopsy if doctor or family deems it necessary.
Disposition of Body
□ Donate my body's organs: □ arrangements made on __________ with _________________________________________________________
□ Cremation □ scatter ashes: _____________________________________________________________________________________
□ Bury container: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
□ Funeral Arrangements: □ Simple □ No embalming □ No public viewing
□ Least expensive burial or cremation container □ Immediate disposition □ Bury at: __________________________________________________
□ Services: □ memorial (after disposition) □ funeral (before disposition)
□ graveside ceremony at: □ my church □ mortuary _________________ □ other ____________________________________________________
□ Memorial gifts to: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
□ omit flowers
I have made pre-arrangements with: _____________________________________________________________________________________
name/address of mortuary
Signature: ____________________________________________________ Date: _________________________________________________
Witness: ______________________________________________________ Date: ________________________________________________
Witness: ______________________________________________________ Date: ________________________________________________
Additional sheets may be added as needed. A copy of this form should be completed for each member of the family.