When you think of preparing for hurricane season, chances are you’ll focus on protecting yourself and your loved ones. Shelter, safety, and supplies, of course, are of paramount importance. In that regard, check FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the National Hurricane Center for some important operational guidelines.
But don’t forget the other “s” – security. If disaster strikes, you’ll want to be able to access your important financial information, particularly if you’re facing a long recovery.
Here are some tips on ways you can protect important financial information in the event of a disaster:
- Securely store your documents. Gather your original estate-planning documents, including your will, trusts, Power of Attorney, and healthcare surrogates. 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 when you store the originals.
- Credit/debit card alerts. Arrange to receive alerts when your debit or credit cards are used., This can protect your accounts from fraud.
- Create strong passwords and secure them. Always use a combination of letters, numbers, symbols and capital letters, and be sure to change your passwords often.
- Verify your healthcare surrogates. Make sure you have an adequate number of healthcare surrogates listed in your healthcare directives, and confirm that they all have the ability and interest to serve you. If out of state, can they afford to travel to care for you? Remember to share a copy of the healthcare directives document with your named surrogates, and be sure you review your documents with a trust officer or your attorney.
- Get ready to travel. If you’re leaving town, carry your Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will and Designation of Heath Care Surrogates with you when traveling. Should something happen, you will be prepared, which can remove unneeded stress from you and your loved ones.
- Check your credit status. Pull your credit report to be sure no one is using your credit. You can get free weekly credit reports through April 20, 2022, 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.
- Make sure your assets are titled properly to ensure your estate plans are carried out. It is important that your beneficiary designations match your wishes. We find that many estate plans fail due to incorrect titling and beneficiary listings. Review your estate plans with a careful emphasis on your asset titles and beneficiary designations. (At Crews Bank & Trust, we offer complimentary reviews with a trust officer to be sure your plan will work as you intended.)
- Select a true fiduciary to manage your investment accounts. This is always a good idea. A fiduciary is legally and ethically bound to act in your best interests and is regulated and examined by the FDIC and FDFS, not FINRA. (Our trust officers must act in your best interest.)
- Secure your home title or deed. If you don’t already have these documents, check with your local property appraiser. Titles and deeds are public records and available from the Property Appraiser in the county where your home is located.
At Crews Bank & Trust, our trust clients can take advantage of a team of experts, regulated and examined policies and processes, secured systems, dual control of assets, decisions by experienced committees, and professional investment management. Our team can store your original documents in our trust vault, provided you name the bank as trustee. Crews Bank & Trust is backed by the strength of a strong, family-owned-and-operated financial corporation.
Investments are not a deposit or other obligation of, or guaranteed by, the bank, are not FDIC insured, not insured by any federal government agency, and are subject to investment risks, including possible loss of principal.