Emergency Preparedness and Estate Planning in 2022

The past few years have taught us that life is never predictable. From COVID to natural disasters, Colorado has faced its fair share of emergencies. While it is impossible to predict when an emergency will occur, it is possible to plan for complex situations and protect your family, health, and assets in the event of a disaster. Colorado families should prepare for crises and natural disasters such as fires, floods, and tornados. 

An up-to-date estate plan is the best way to ensure that you and your family have the assets and necessities to survive during a natural disaster or crisis. 

The following article will break down the essential estate planning documents for emergency preparedness in 2022. Specifically, we will discuss: 

  • Top Estate Planning Documents for Emergencies
  • Communicating Your Emergency Plan
  • Emergency Communication Planning
  • How To Protect Your Estate Planning Documents 

Top Estate Planning Documents for Emergencies

Creating an estate plan is the first step in emergency planning. An estate plan guarantees that your wishes are fulfilled if you are incapacitated or unable to make decisions.

The top estate planning documents you should include in your emergency planning are:

  • Last Will and Testament. A Will is a written record of your wishes after your death. It allows you to decide how your designated beneficiaries will distribute your property. A Will can also help eliminate the risk of family disputes concerning property after your death.
  • General Durable Power of Attorney. A financial power of attorney allows you to designate someone to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. A General Durable Power of Attorney allows your agent to do the following:
    • Make financial decisions for you
    • Pay your bills
    • Manage your assets and attend to your affairs
  • Medical Durable Power of Attorney. A medical power of attorney designates an agent. It gives them instructions regarding your personal beliefs and health care directions and the authority to make related decisions if you cannot make these decisions for yourself.
  • Living Will/Advanced Directive. A living will is a written document stating your wishes if you are terminally ill or injured and in a coma or vegetative state.  A living will only apply in imminent death situations, and you can’t make your own medical decisions; it guides your doctors and your agent or proxy who is making decisions on your behalf. 

Other important documents that should be kept safe in case of emergency are life insurance and property insurance documents. Keep these documents in a fire-safe box and keep electronic copies as backups. That way, you have the documents easily accessible during quick home evacuations.

Beneficiary Designations and Why They Are Important

It is essential to designate beneficiaries for your estate to prepare for emergencies. For example, who will handle your estate if you are no longer able to? List who will manage your assets? If you have children, who will take care of them? Where will your pets go? All of these questions are important to consider before a disaster strikes.

You should also consider insurance policy designees. Make sure to review your beneficiary information often. If you change your beneficiary information on your insurance policy, for example, reach out to your estate planning attorney to ensure all legal documents match. 

Communicating Your Emergency Plan

An important aspect of emergency planning is communication. Your family and beneficiaries should be aware of your estate plan and your wishes in case of an emergency. Communicate your emergency plan with your family. Make sure they know where your estate planning documents are and the contact information for your attorney and other legal designees. 

How To Protect Your Estate Planning Documents

Store your documents in multiple safe locations to ensure they are available during an emergency. For example, you should keep original signed documents in a fire-safe case, while you can store electronic documents on secure cloud drives. If you have saved your estate planning documents and insurance documents on a hard drive or USB, be sure also to keep the records on a cloud-based server. You do not want to risk technical trouble accessing your documents during an emergency. 

An estate plan is the best way to prepare for an emergency. If you need to update your estate plan or are considering emergency preparedness, reach out to our office. We would love to help you protect your estate.

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