Financial Emergency Preparedness


Life’s emergency situations require advanced preparation and planning. The first step is organizing your financial information. Do you have an appropriate place for filing each document? Have you told anyone else where you keep your vital information? Have you shared your wishes in the event of your death? Are your documents available to ‘grab and go’ in case of evacuation? Many situations require you to take action now to avoid financial problems later. 

Preparing for financial emergencies  

What Does the Worksheet Cover?
  • Family members’ names and relationship to you  
  • Location of important papers  
    • Bank accounts and safe deposit box  
    • Life insurance policies 
    • Other insurance policies Bank accounts and insurance 
  • Assets
    • Trusts 
    • Real estate owned  
    • Real estate owned by you and leased/rented to a lease
    • Stocks and bonds
    • Mutual funds (not held in retirement accounts)
    • Retirement benefits
    • Personal property Notes, mortgages owed to you, and accounts receivable
  • Liabilities
    • Mortgages and other real estate debt  
    • Real estate leased/rented by you from a different landowner  
    • Liens against personal or business property (i.e., vehicle or machinery loans)  
    • Other personal liabilities (credit cards, money owed to others) 

Get Your Worksheet

Natural Disasters

Wherever you live, there is always the risk of fires, floods, and other disasters. Your home and important documents could be totally destroyed. Prepare yourself so you can minimize the impact.  

Sales receipts and contracts should be systematically filed for easy access if an insurance claim is necessary. The originals should be kept in a safe place with a copy filed elsewhere for the best protection. 


Theft can occur in an instant. Your wallet could be stolen from your office or your computer from your vehicle. Do you have a list of credit and debit card numbers, copies of recent statements, and company contact information?  

For easy access to this important information, photocopy the front and back of each credit and debit card. Do you have a recent property inventory completed with serial numbers to help in getting stolen property returned? 

Sudden illness or death

Contingency plans also may be needed for sudden injury, illness, or death. If you were incapacitated, who would handle your affairs and how would that person gain access to your important documents? Would they have durable power of attorney to act on your behalf? Would someone have access to your dental or medical records to provide positive identification of your remains? By making these plans ahead of time, you ease the stress your loved ones would face. 

Get Organized

Your spouse and adult children should know the location of all papers, contracts, documents, policies, and other needed information. Each should know whom to turn to for advice in case of an emergency. The purpose of these downloadable forms below will help you organize this information. If you download the file with the forms to your computer or a flash drive, you can just click on each box and type in the information required. Then save the file with a name you will easily remember. This electronic file will be easy to keep up to date. As your situation changes, delete the information in a box and type in the new. If you prefer, you can print a copy of the forms and write the information in each box. If you use a pencil, you can erase and add new information as necessary. 

When completed and kept up-to-date, you or others who might have to manage your affairs will know where to find all records. It will make it easier to contact advisors, such as a lawyer, financial institutions, primary doctors, or dentists.  

The forms can be used to create an effective filing system to manage your vital information. Ideally, you should keep a record of all significant purchases and property you own. Keep all ‘Paid In Full’ statements for life, in case there is ever a question about payments. A good way to keep records is to take photos or video each item as you buy it. 

With video you can speak as you go about what the item is, the purchase date, how much you paid for it, whether there is an extended warranty, what it is worth, and documentation of appraisal. This way you have an excellent record for insurance purposes and you increase your chances of recovering costs of lost, stolen, or damaged property.  

If the property is damaged or destroyed, you can also take photos or video it to show the extent of the damage by comparison to the originals. Complete the forms with your spouse/ partner and others who need access to your personal information. Fill in the forms as completely as possible and keep them up-to-date as your situation changes.  

If you need additional space, duplicate the pages. If you complete the forms on the computer, they will be easy to update. Store the information on a flash drive which can be easily taken with you in case of evacuation. Password protect the flash drive for added security. Locations of originals and all copies should be noted on the forms. Keep the list in a safe place known to your family or advisors. Protect this information from access by unauthorized people. 

Contingency plans

And what if, while traveling out of town or overseas, you discover you need to sell stock? Prepare for your trip by creating a durable power of attorney and giving a trusted person access to your financial accounts so they can handle business for you promptly. This way you avoid having to cut your trip short. 

Information that should be stored in a fireproof box

It is recommended that you buy a portable fireproof box if you don’t already have one. It should be large enough to hold files and a few valuables, but not so large that you can’t easily carry it out if you have to evacuate. Keep a copy of your completed Financial Emergency Preparedness forms in the box. The following is a list of some of the suggested items you should keep in the box: 

  • Birth certificates for household members  
    Tax returns for a minimum of three years  
  • Wills, Living Wills, Power of Attorney, Letters of Instruction, and Health Care Power of Attorney  
  • Trusts for which you are a trustee or in which you have a beneficial interest
  • Location of safe deposit boxes (with key location) and names of authorized signatories
  • List of contact information for advisors, personal representatives, trustees, guardians, doctors, and dentists

Keep the original checklist with your Will so your personal representative has access to both. Give other copies of the checklist to individuals such as your lawyer or close relatives who have copies of your important documents. Keep copies of documents such as Wills and trust agreements in your portable fireproof box for easy access.