Putting Together My ‘What If…’ Emergency Information.

OK, so I had a basic “what if” book put together for my wife/family if something were to happen to me, but after reading the book “Family CFO” that I talked about last week, I have begun putting together a comprehensive emergency packet…just in case.

I will be making three copies of this information as follows: The first copy will be on paper and in the safe in our house. The second copy will be on paper and will be kept at the bank. The third copy will be in digital format and will be on our home computer, a USB thumb drive, and our backup hard-drives. This way the information will be preserved no matter what calamity happens…unless of course something happens to my entire town and the bank vault all on the same day that something happens to me. And if that happens, well…

As for what will be included in this information, well, this is what I have been working on so far:

  • Bank account(s) numbers, website addresses, and login information. This includes checking, savings, mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc.
  • Insurance forms & phone numbers (health, home, & car)
  • Information about our car loan, when the bill is due and how it is paid and to whom
  • Although I won’t make copies of them, the location of my medical records. After all the health issues I had in the last year and then moving out of state, my doctors gave me dictionary-sized folders of my records
  • All our credit card accounts, numbers, website addresses and login information for each
  • A list of all bills that get paid each month, and whether they get paid automatically by our bank or not
  • The phone numbers of close friends, business associates,doctors, etc
  • All my blogging information – which sites I own, the logins for each, how I make my money from each, etc. Even if my family decides not to continue any of my work, they will probably be owed money!
  • Depending on your personal situation, you might also want to include info about your will, power of attorney choices/location, a household inventory of your expensive assets, etc.

I don’t want my wife or anyone else to have to deal with managing my affairs while dealing with whatever happened. If they can access one piece of information that will tell them how our household is run, it will make their life so much easier. A little bit of my time in advance can go a long way to helping them out should anything unfortunate happen. Do you have a plan in place in case of “what if…”? If not, you might want to think about at least putting together the bare minimum!

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Comments (15)

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  1. Chris Thomas says:

    I think this is a great idea. My moms husband passed away a little over a year ago and I was able to jump in and take financial control of my mom’s household because her husband kept a GREAT spreadsheet with all online accounts and passwords. His filing cabinet was also well organized and he seems to have never thrown away paperwork of any kind, which was a little annoying for me to sort through what was important. He also had a well maintained and organized contact list with addresses and phone numbers for friends, family, customers, and vendors.

    That being said, I worry about people creating an electronic spreadsheet with all of that information and storing it on a computer. I feel there are too many nontechnical people out there who could be extremely vulnerable to identity theft if their kids install file sharing apps or various other possibilities of file theft. Even password protecting a spreadsheet file isn’t secure enough.

    I do however agree with storing the file on a thumbdrive/portable hard drive in another location, like a fire-proof safe.

  2. Depending on what business you are in, make sure that your office has something like this as well.

    For me, I am going to leave instructions to spend some of the money on a big party.

  3. david says:

    Good ideas guys, thanks for putting those up here..

  4. […] Original post: Putting Together My “˜What If”¦’ Emergency Information. […]

  5. BSCC says:

    This is a great idea. I know what I’ll be doing this week. Thanks for the info!

  6. Jean says:

    You mention putting the document in several different places, all nearby:

    “This way the information will be preserved no matter what calamity happensunless of course something happens to my entire town and the bank vault all on the same day that something happens to me. And if that happens, well”¦”

    Here’s an idea I read this on a financial planning site somewhere:

    Send a copy of to a trusted friend or family member in another state, preferably across country. Chances are if some calamity happens in your neck of the woods, a city across the country won’t be affected. Ask your friend/relative not to open it, just keep it, just in case…

  7. david says:

    Very true Jean, I should have mentioned that. Thanks for adding it to the conversation, it’s a great idea!

  8. What a fantastic idea! I would never have tought of doing this, but even now being single and living at home I will try and get everything organised. Because you never know what might happen.

  9. guinness416 says:

    You should also put in a printout or pamphlet stating what your wife and co need to if the worst happens, or instructions about where to get them. In a practical sense, the numbered list of where to go and what to do. There are many people who just don’t know they should request multiple copies of a death cert for banks and so forth ASAP for example, because they’re (supposedly) harder to get down the line. I know somebody who said that having such a list to hand was a huge stress reliever and help in a sudden death in the family situation.

  10. David says:

    Guess I will have to ask my mom what she had to do when my dad died, since I have no idea what needs to happen. Thanks for the advice guinness!

  11. fathersez says:

    This is a great idea. I am working on such a letter right now. I am giving quite some time to finish this, so that I will not forget anything.

    I am also thinking of leaving it with the people I have named as administrators of my estate,(since my computer has a password which has to be in the letter.)

    I first read about this idea in Madison’s blog.

    Thanks for sharing.

  12. […] explains to us his emergency preparations in Putting Together My “˜What If”¦’ Emergency Information. posted at My Two Dollars. I’ve done this as well, though I did not put a copy in a bank box. […]

  13. Karla (threadbndr) says:

    I have a “life book” that has all the legal stuff. (birth, marriage paperwork, my SS card, my late husband’s birth and death certificates, my will, copy of my PoA, and end of life docs (living will).

    I need to add my financial stuff, and show my son where to find the net worth statement (which lists all the accounts) on my computer. I like the idea of putting it all on a thumb drive and storing in a safe. I think that’s an upcoming project.

    Another thing to add is all the insurance info and a household inventory. This can also be your ‘grab and go’ record in case of an evacuation.

  14. Chance says:

    Around our house we call it the “Dead Book” because we’re snarky. In addition to the information you listed, I included the emails and phone numbers of friends and family that need to be notified right away. I also include (and update on my birthday every year)step-by-step instructions for key activities, like obtaining a death certificate, and links to sites with information. When someone dies suddenly, the mental fog that descends on the person left behind is profound, so I try to organize the dead book in a really simple, step-by-step way.

  15. david says:

    Very snarky indeed, Chance. But I like it.