Steps You Can Take Right Now, By Yourself, Without The Help Of A Lawyer, To Help You And Your Family Be More Prepared For The Worst-Case Scenario 

This year we have seen how a health care crisis can occur rapidly and unexpectedly.  You never know when you might be in an emergency situation, but you CAN be prepared. 

Step 3  in our continuing series of simple steps you can take RIGHT NOW, by yourself, without the help of a lawyer, to get more prepared to face the worst-case scenario is all about responding to an emergency.  

We’re going to share simple tips for putting together an Emergency Go File.    

What’s an Emergency Go File? Think of everything that you would need to have with you on the drop of a dime if something were to happen to you or someone that relies on you. 

The Emergency Go File contains copies of important items and documents safely stored in a file or envelope. The key is to have this file or envelope quickly accessible in case of an emergency.  

Not only should the file contain your information, but it should also include the information of your spouse, children, or anyone who relies on you as a caretaker.

What Should Your Emergency Go File Contain?  

1.  A copy of your ID or Driver’s License 

2.  A copy of your Social Security Card. 

3. A copy of your health insurance card or any type of document that contains important information about your medical benefits. 

4. Copies of other vital records such as birth certificates, adoption papers, passports, citizenship papers, marriage license, child custody papers, or military ID.  

5.  A list of all current medications that you’re taking.  

6.  A list of any known allergies including allergies to medication.  

7.  A list of everyone important to making Health Care decisions on your behalf. Although this won’t be a binding appointment of a Health Care Agent, this list could help serve as a contact list for Health Care professionals that need to get in touch with trusted people in your end-of-life. 

8.  A copy of your Advanced Health Care Directive, Living Will, or Health Care Power of Attorney after you’ve executed these documents (you should have these) documenting your end-of-life care conversations.

9.  If you have minor children, include a copy of the emergency contact list and procedures that you provide to your children’s caretakers and a copy of your temporary guardian appointments for your children. These are critical and often overlooked documents. We believe so much in the power of these documents that we include them with every Plan to Protect Your Children and Estate Plan.

10.  Copies of other important Estate Planning documents such as your Will, final disposition and funeral instructions, Power of Attorney, and stand-alone HIPAA release to allow your loved ones to obtain medical updates. 

11.  A redacted copy of your Asset Inventory. Be sure to use security precautions with the details you include to protect sensitive information. For example, you don’t need to include complete bank account numbers. 

As you copy all these items, consider scanning digital copies into a drive that is secure and accessible on a cloud-based storage drive so you can access the items from your smartphone or mobile device.

With so much medical uncertainty in the last few months, we’ve seen that family members have had difficulty communicating with loved ones or with medical providers while in medical facilities. Having this information accessible can help expedite communication and treatment. 

Creating an Emergency Go File is an easy task that everyone can do. It takes almost no time and costs almost nothing.  Just pull a few items out of your wallet or files, make a couple of copies, and place the items in a folder or envelope.  Be sure those that may need access to the file know where it is kept so it can be quickly accessed in an emergency. 

Even if you never develop an estate plan, you can still pull together many of these important items— regardless of your age or current health.   Doesn’t your family deserve a few minutes of your time spent getting organized and prepared for the unexpected?

If you’re ready to work with a trusted legal advisor to walk you through preparing the important estate planning documents that you should include in your Emergency Go File, we’ll guide you as part of our Planning Process. Give us a call or book your Life & Legacy Planning Session to get started working with us today. 

Jeneva A. Vazquez, Principal Attorney