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You’ve heard the saying, “hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” and maybe you’ve taken it to heart.
But it’s all you’ve managed to do, in terms of preparing for something bad happening to you, let alone doing any estate planning.
It’s certainly a start.
It could be because many people think they must have children or significant assets before worrying about starting an estate plan.
The word estate causes confusion.
You don’t need to have a house and high net worth to help your loved ones avoid a lengthy legal process, to make decisions for you, or address your financial matters if you are no longer able to.
Estate Planning and Emergency Documents Help You, Help Your Family
If you’re over the age of 18, have assets like a bank account or possessions like a car, or if you’ve started working and have any type of retirement plan – there are a few key documents you should have in case the worst should happen.
Young people often assume their parents can make decisions for them and are surprised when that may not be the case.
You’ll also want to make sure you’ve named beneficiaries on all of your accounts and life insurance policies. And if you don’t have a will, it’s time to get one.
A simple will can be drawn up by an attorney. Or you can use online forms to create wills through services like Gentreo.
If you choose to use a template you find online, it is still suggested you have it reviewed by a legal professional in your state to determine if it meets requirements.
The older you get, the more possessions you have. The greater your net worth, the bigger your business or family grows. And the more complicated your estate plan becomes.
So it’s important to start early and then update your plan and emergency documents over time.
- How Much Does Estate Planning Cost?
- Do You Need A Lawyer For Estate Planning?
- Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk (About Your Finances)
What if you haven’t done any estate or emergency planning at all?
You can start by giving yourself credit for reading this article since many people will skip it because it’s not a pleasant topic. They’ll plan to come back to it someday.
But when is the right day for sad topics?
Will there ever be a good time to think and talk about what your family and friends should know in case of an emergency and something bad happening to you?
Will it be next week, next month, or next year? Maybe.
It might not be a good time, but taking a few minutes today to commit to seeing what you can do to help the people you love is a start.
Remember, this isn’t about you, it’s about them. You likely comment often that family comes first and you have the best friends in the world.
If it’s true, show them.
Will something bad happen to you? Hopefully not!
But this type of planning helps loved ones whenever you’re not able to help yourself.
An estate plan and informational emergency documents can be used if you have a sudden illness, or if you’re in an accident and can’t communicate.
And it will help them if you die.
In Case of Emergency
We all know we’ll die someday, but we don’t know which day it will be. So admitting that, and taking charge of what we can control is what matters.
We can prepare information to help the people we love to navigate through our lives when we can’t do it or are no longer here.
Maybe you think your spouse or partner knows where everything is, and they could figure it out if you weren’t there. Or your mom or sister will help.
Maybe your brother could hack into your computer to figure out passwords to your accounts. And someone will find your will and life insurance information at the bottom of the cabinet and contact your lawyer.
But what if your spouse or partner was with you and is also injured or has passed away too?
Or you don’t have a sister, and your mom is too grief-stricken to help right now. And what if your brother can’t figure out your passwords. Or maybe there is no will and you’ve never met with a lawyer.
How will they know?
They’ll know because you’ve told them everything and left the essential information for them. You’re not just hoping for the best; you’re prepared for the worst.
What if you could gather documents like these and put them all in one place?
- Household information
- Key personal documents
- Medical information (including advanced directives)
- Childcare (daycare, routines, school, extracurricular activities)
- Insurance policies
- Basic financial information (properties, bills, cash accounts, credit cards, debt)
- Employer information
- Social media/website logins
- Investment information (accounts, strategy, what to do with life insurance, real estate, etc.)
- Military Veteran benefit and obituary information
- Burial/Memorial Preferences
- Personal notes to family/friends
It might be overwhelming to look at the list, but all of this information would be incredibly helpful to your family and friends in case of an emergency.
Starting to gather this information is something you can do right away. And even if it takes time to get it all organized, make sure you take the final step of telling someone – family members or close friends, where they can find these emergency documents.
Emergency Document Help
If you think it would be easier to take the lead of someone who has done this already, you have that option too. Chelsea Brennan, the blogger behind the family financial blog, Smart Money Mamas has created the In Case of Emergency Binder (or ICE Binder).
The ICE binder comes as a pdf with over 100 downloadable pages and 15 subsections to help you stay organized. And you can print off new pages when you need to update information.
Members of the Women Who Money team have been through each page of the information and emergency documents binder. And we agree that even though it might be one of the most difficult things you’ve ever done, it will be one of the most important things you’ll do.
For yourself and your loved ones.
We’ve chosen to highlight this product because we believe in it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re single, have a spouse or partner, or if you have kids or grandkids – if something happens to you, this is a gift to those you love.
It will guide them through your personal and financial life until you can take back over. Or in case of the worst possible scenario, until they’ve settled your personal business
You can grab your In Case of Emergency Binder and get started on it today for just $39!
Will something terrible happen to you or a loved one today? We hope not!
But we urge you to take steps today to start preparing your emergency documents and provide the information your friends and family may need, ‘In Case of Emergency’.
Vicki and Amy are authors of Estate Planning 101, From Avoiding Probate and Assessing Assets to Establishing Directives and Understanding Taxes, Your Essential Primer to Estate Planning, from Adams Media.