Over my 50 years of giving financial advice, I have discovered that there are two types of planning for the unexpected.
First there are the traditional types of emergencies that we never know when they might happen.
These are things like health issues, loss of a job, illness or expenses related to innumerable things that can happen to any person or family.
For decades, we have advised our clients to have some cash available in case you need it when there is no access to the banking system.
How much? Experts advise three to six-month monthly budget.
We have advised clients to plan their estate for the unexpected.
Wills, trusts, powers-of-attorney, and other legal documents should current and available to the family members who will need them.
Securing adequate insurance is imperative. Of course, this would include medical, disability, life, homeowner, liability, auto and any risk that may devastate your assets.
This is a no-brainer for most of us, but keeping the limits up-to-date may be another issue.
It is imperative to keep all beneficiary designations up to date. This topic would include life insurance, IRA accounts, company retirement plans, and any account that would pass by beneficiary listing.
An extension of having beneficiaries up-to-date, is the titling of all assets. This may include property titles, investment accounts, business accounts, and funeral planning.
None of these should surprise us.
If you are like most families, life can get complicated with a variety of assets, and more.
Then along comes something like the fires of 2017. Life changes with the direction of the wind.
You have just minutes to extract yourself from you home and a lifetime of accumulation. It is not about documents or planning, it is about survival.
I spoke to several people who lost everything from the fire. They escaped with just the “clothes on their backs.”
They had little or no time to gather their most valuable possessions. Life was preserved, but they lost many of their most cherished keepsakes.
Here are a few things you might keep at the ready for the next time. Next time? Will there be a next time? Don’t know, but it seems like there is always something.
As I wrote about last week, make a “go bag” with clothes, first aid kit, food and some water. Include a battery-operated radio, flashlight. Another bag might include papers like birth certificates, passports, or medical records.
Here are a few other ideas: Have some cash. How much? At least enough to pay expenses for a week. Sleeping bags are helpful. You never know where you might end up sleeping. Consider keepsakes like pictures, diaries, or memorabilia.
The list could be endless. The critical issue is the speed of availability. The Boy Scouts have it right. “Be Prepared.”
We are most sorry for all the losses: the loss of life, the loss of possessions, the loss of irreplaceable heirlooms. We are sincerely grateful for so many other things that survived.