Disaster Preparation Tips

Hurricane season is here once again. However, disasters include not just hurricanes. Disasters can be natural or man-made events and can happen at any time. It is important that you take steps to protect important tax and financial information.  Now is the perfect time to review your disaster emergency plan to assess your readiness in the event of a disaster.

  1. Original Documents: Any original documents you have such as tax returns, Social Security cards, marriage certificates, birth certificates, passports, and land ownership documents need to be secured in a waterproof container in a safe space. It is also recommended that you can scan these documents and save them to a secure location, whether your computer hard drive, an external drive or the cloud. It may also be a good idea to scan a copy of your driver’s license and store it together with the scanned documents so that you have readily available ID.
  1. Other Documents: Important financial, household, personal and medical records that are not in an original format may also need to be protected if the document is not otherwise available. For example, your bank maintains your bank statements for a certain number of years, but other documents in your possession may not be easily available from another source.
  1. Insurance Documents: Insurance policy information, including, the claim filing process should be included in your disaster plan so that claims can be filed as quickly as possible after a disaster.
  1. Valuable Property: Make a list and take a picture or video of valuable items so that you are able to document the condition and existence of the property in the event of loss. Do not forget to include your home, vehicle, boat, and business property. You can use the list and pictures to substantiate a claim with your insurance company in the event of loss and/or damages. The IRS has disaster loss workbooks to help you. You can find these at:

For personal property: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p584.pdf and

For business property: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p584b.pdf

  1. Contact Information: Have a list of important contact information that you can access after a disaster as phones may not work or may sustain damage in a disaster.

This list is not all inclusive and your situation may require you to take other factors into consideration. FEMA publishes a disaster preparation planning kit which contains checklists and inventories in fillable pdf format to get you started with your disaster plan. You can find the planning kit at:   https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/2020-03/ready_emergency-financial-first-aid-toolkit.pdf

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