5 Ways You can Protect Your Home, Savings and Family Before Mother Nature Strikes

Many of us have an emergency preparedness kit ready in case of hurricane, earthquake or tornado but are we financially ready for a natural disaster? FEMA has set aside September as National Preparedness Month, when Americans are encouraged to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities. Many don’t realize when storms threaten that it’s not enough to protect only your home and property, financial considerations need to be taken into account. Now is the time to make a financial plan part of your emergency preparedness kit!

Here are our 5 essential tips to protect your family financially in the face of a natural disaster:

  1. Stash the cash- you should store away 3-6 months worth of expenses in a hidden place in your home. We like the idea of a firebox or even a coffee tin.
  2. Run an Estate Plan Fire Drill- it’s not just about taxes, would you know what yours covers in case of an emergency? Most importantly, you need to make sure your guardian is still the person you want.
  3. Review Your Coverage- do you know enough about your insurance policies? Make sure you have what you need for life, disability, health, auto, homeowners and flood insurance. You can always change the policy before  but not after one of the 5Ds strike.
  4. Find, file and E-File –how safe are your most important financial documents? The cloud is your best friend. If you aren’t using it to store your vital documents yet, check out our Diva Survival Guide for a list of essentials to upload.
  5. Check Your Health Care Documents- these documents ensure your decisions are being made the way you want and by whom if disaster strikes. Review: a) HIPPA release,  b) Medical Power of Attorney, c) Living will, and d) list of all current meds. If you are missing any of the mentioned documents take a look at our Health Care Essentials post below for simple instructions on how to get each.

Health Care Essentials: Isaac’s Teaching Moment

No matter where you live, talk of hurricane Issaac makes you prepare for the worst but hope for the best. At DivaCFO, we’re all about being prepared. Many people mistakenly think they don’t need to worry about healthcare documents until later in life, but the following documents are essential for everyone of all ages.  Legal Healthcare expert, Louise Joy, explains why you and everyone in your family should have a HIPAA release, medical Power of Attorney, living will and list of current medications with you at all times.

1.  A general HIPAA release that allows trusted friends and/or family members to speak to your physicians and other health care providers about your medical conditions and get copies of medical records  This is especially helpful when the person has an accident or significant illness and needs additional people to help them fully understand what’s going on.  HIPAA is a federal law that makes your record private and wont let anyone else see them unless they are healthcare providers taking care of you.  The only way non-healthcare providers can see your records is if you sign a HIPAA release that says exactly who can see your records.  There are some other exceptions, but they do not apply for your friends and family members. If you don’t already have one, fill out this universal HIPPA release form.

2.  A Medical Power of Attorney appointing one or more individuals to make medical decisions for you when you can’t.  These situations occur when you are in an unconscious or confused state.  A Medical Power of Attorney allows the person you name to make decisions for you after a physician (or two) determines that you cannot make decisions for yourself.  You will be able to make decisions again after you recover your ability to make decisions. For more information on giving someone a Power of Attorney for your healthcare, check out this helpful guide written by the American Bar Association.

3.  Living wills  to identify what you want done when you have a terminal illness or are in a persistent vegetative state (very little brain capacity).  This document lets you decide if you want lots of aggressive care like feeding tubes and respirators and/or comfort care (pain medications and noninvasive care like creams and mouth care). This document can appoint a person to make these decisions or can refer to the person under your medical power of attorney.

4.  A list of ALL current medications with the name of the medication, the dosage (e.g. 10 milligrams), the frequency taken (e.g. every 4 hours or before breakfast and dinner) and why you take the medication (e.g. high blood pressure) and the name and telephone number of the doctor who prescribed it for you.  The list also needs to include all of your non-prescription medications, vitamins and supplements (e.g. calcium) with amount you take and how often you take it.  The medication list is really important because medications, vitamins and supplements can sometimes cause interactions with drugs that may be given to you in an emergency or when a new doctor is treating you and changing your medications.  Also, under the circumstance that you have to evacuate, you already have this important list ready.  It should be with you at all times (I like to keep mine in my wallet), you should give it to your doctors and nurses at every appointment, and several people you trust should also have it.

For Medical powers of attorney and living wills you need to use the forms or formats that are approved for the state where you sign them.  (So if you are in Texas when you sign the form, make sure you use the forms that are approved in Texas and get them witnessed.  If you are in Louisiana, use the Louisiana forms.)  They will work in other states once they are signed.  Most importantly make sure your friends and family members have copies of the documents.  Keeping them in the cloud is also a good way to make sure you can get to them when you need them.