Do you have all of the documents your family will need to set up residence somewhere else temporarily? If the problems at home get bad enough, or your house is completely destroyed, will you have all of the necessary documents? Here are some you will want to have:
- Birth certificates – Copies are fine, but have your birth certificates in the disaster preparedness kit to ensure you can prove who you are and where you are a citizen.
- Marriage and divorce papers – These prove the marital status of the head of the household, and could be important in the future.
- Adoption papers – If you have adopted a child, these are important to prove that the child is part of your family.
- Social Security cards – Getting a new copy of your Social Security card takes time and may not be simple if your area is devastated in a natural disaster, so keep copies of the cards for all members of your household.
- Passports and driver’s license – If anyone in your family has a passport, make a copy of it. Also, copy all driver’s licenses. These will provide a starting point for replacing these important forms of identification if they are lost in a tragedy.
- Photographs of family and pets – Keep a recent photograph of all family members and pets so you can get help finding each other if you are separated.
- Pet microchip numbers – If you have pets that are microchipped, keep a copy of the microchip tag number.
Why are these documents crucial? If you are involved in a natural disaster that is bad enough to destroy your home, all of these important documents will be destroyed along with your home. Should you need them again in the near future, you will be at the mercy of the office that issued them to get you copies. Having a copy of your own will help you be ahead of the curve as you get reestablished somewhere else.
- Tax information – Make a copy of the last year’s tax returns, so you can prove your income should you need to. Also, make a copy of your personal and business property tax statements. Should you need to get a new loan or apply for assistance based on your income during your recovery period, you will need this information.
- Financial account numbers – Have copies of statements from all bank or credit union accounts you have so you have access to the account number and the bank’s contact information. Also, make copies of a credit or debit card statement for the same information. You want to be certain you have access to your money in the event of a disaster.
- Income verification – In addition to the tax statements, have copies of recent pay stubs in your disaster kit so you can provide proof of income if needed.
- Insurance information – All insurance policies you have, including life, car, homeowners and health insurance, should be copied and placed in your disaster prep kit. This will ensure you can get coverage or file a claim even when away from home.
- Information about bills and obligations – If you have obligations, like mortgages, utility bills and loans, that you need to pay monthly, make a copy of the bill or statement to put into your disaster kit. This will ensure that you can access your account or the contact information to keep current with your payments.
If your home burns down or is leveled in an earthquake, would you have to start all of your end-of-life planning from scratch? Here are some important legal documents to copy for your disaster preparedness kit.
- Will – If you’ve crafted a last will and testament, put a copy of it into your disaster preparedness kit. If you have not created one, consider doing so immediately. This is the very minimum you need to have for a solid end-of-life plan.
- Living will – A living will is a document outlining the medical treatments you wish to have or not have if you are seriously injured or suffer a terminal illness. The living will also names the individual who is allowed to make medical decisions when you can’t do so for yourself. Have one of these made, and put it in your kit.
- Power of Attorney – A power of attorney document provides someone with the power to act on your behalf for financial or legal concerns if you are not able to do so, such as if you are hospitalized in a coma. This should be part of your kit and your end-of-life plan.
- Trust documents – If you have a trust, make sure you have copies of all of the documents relating to it.
Titles and deeds to property you own – From the car to your home, order copies of your titles and deeds, and place them in your disaster prep kit. Make sure these are actual copies from the appropriate government entity, not photocopies, so you can have legitimate proof of ownership.
- Naturalization or citizenship documents – If you were not born in the United States, make sure you get a copy of your naturalization or citizenship papers for your disaster prep kit.