If you’ve lived in Florida for any length of time, you know what happens every summer: Hurricane season. Longtime residents know the drill – protect yourself and your loved ones in terms of shelter, safety and supplies.
Personal safety of course should remain your number one priority; however, don’t neglect your financial affairs. Ask yourself the following questions:
If stored at home, place the papers in a fire- and water-proof safe, but make sure to share the combination with someone you know and trust. If you use a bank’s safe deposit box, consider putting the box in the name of your trust, so your successor trustee will have access in case something happens to you. Let your successors know where you store the originals.
The last thing you want to worry about during hurricane season is identity theft. Unfortunately, bad actors don’t stop for natural disasters. Therefore, setting up alerts can help protect your accounts from fraud.
Always use a combination of letters, numbers, symbols and capital letters, and be sure to change your passwords often. There are also many password vault providers on the market that will keep your passwords safe and notify you when it may be time to re-secure your accounts with updated passwords.
Do you have an adequate number of health care surrogates listed in your health care directives?
Do they all have the ability and interest to serve you? If they’re out of state, can they afford to travel to care for you? Did you share a copy of your health care directives document with your named surrogates? Be sure you review your documents with a trust officer or your attorney.
Are you leaving town?
It’s a wise idea to carry your Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will and Designation of Health Care Surrogates with you when traveling. Should something happen, you will be prepared, which can remove unintended stress from you and your loved ones.
Have you pulled your credit report this year to be sure no one is using your credit?
Everyone is eligible to get free annual credit reports from the three national credit-reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. To get your free reports, go to Annual Credit Report. We recommend you rotate among the agencies to be sure your report is accurate. Each company is slightly different in what they report.
Are your assets titled properly to ensure your estate plans are carried out?
It is important that your beneficiary designations match your wishes. All too often we find that many estate plans fail due to incorrect titling and beneficiary listings. Please review your estate plans with a careful emphasis on your asset titles and beneficiary designations.
Did you register with the local Property Appraiser to secure the title of your home for free?
Titles and deeds are public records available from the Property Appraiser in the county where your home is located. Make sure your home appraisal is up to date in the event of insurance claims that may arise following a hurricane.
There’s no guarantee of what the weather will do, but the fact is that hurricane planning is a Floridian rite of passage. Ensuring that your financial plan includes a well-documented inventory of your estate and can withstand the fallout of hurricane season is one of the many ways you can be prepared.
The Crews Family of Banks serves the Florida community and we understand the unique circumstances that necessitate a holistic financial plan. Contact us today to create a plan that stays safe no matter what happens.
Executive Vice President, Director of Trust and Wealth Management
Lory manages the Trust and Investment Management Services division to help coordinate the diverse services provided. She has been involved in banking and finance since 1990. Her management and operations experience gives her the resources necessary to lead a team of professionals offering banking and trust products and services with a high degree of personal attention.
She is a graduate of the Florida Bankers Association’s Graduate School of Banking, Florida Bankers Association’s Trust School, and Leadership Charlotte Class of 2003. In addition, Lory has earned both the Florida Certification and National Certified Guardian designations. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Florida Bankers Association’s Trust and Wealth Management Division, volunteers with Tidewell Hospice and has served as a member of the Board of Directors of United Way of Charlotte County.