Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Use National Emergency Preparedness Month to Organize Yourself

September is here, and we all know what that means. . . (okay most of us don't). September is National Emergency Preparedness month. What better way to start your family's emergency preparedness than by organizing your emergency paperwork?

I have found that getting organized can be a little overwhelming, so I have a few suggestions for those who need the help.

Don't try and tackle too much at once. I have found that running around the house to collect paperwork is a time consuming and daunting task. Pick one topic and collect the information on just that. For example, find everyone's birth certificates. If you don't have them anymore, take the time to get online and request them. Doing something that simple will help you feel motivated to do more later. 

Collect financial and insurance information as it comes in the mail. If you are like most people your financial paperwork is all over the place. Trying to find current statements may be a headache you are not willing to take on. As your current bills come in the mail and you have paid them, throw the statements into one location. (Inside your Prepared Binder – Home Edition is a wonderful place to stash them!) At the end of the month use the information you have collected to organize your financial records. If you are using Prepared Binder – Home Edition you can quickly fill in the financial forms and parts of the insurance section. This stress free method is sure to give you a sense of accomplishment.

Have a family discussion. When it comes to making emergency plans, no one is an island. Whether it is determining an evacuation plan or identifying an emergency contact list, your family needs to be involved. If you are single or without family, you will need to include close friends. Take the time to figure out what you will do, where you will go and who you will call. Then talk to the people involved. They need to know what your plans are and how they can help. The act of organizing your plan will likely motivate your family to do the same. What a gift!

Remember you plan because you care. Sitting down to organize your memorial plans can feel overwhelming. Not many people like to think about dying, especially parents with young children. If you feel overwhelmed, imagine how your family will feel if they have to make these decisions after your death. It is important to write down your preferences for a funeral, but it is even more important to have your legal paperwork organized. Having a will or trust with specific considerations for children and pets will give you peace of mind regarding the future. Establishing the correct powers of attorney will help your family in times of emergency. While no one wants to use these plans, having them will help you feel prepared.

After you have started this organization process, it is important to tell the right people where to find the paperwork. While putting important papers in a locked fire box or safe is a good idea, you also need to make sure the correct people know it is there and how to access it.

Good luck, and happy planning!

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