Natural disasters have caused devastation in more than ten countries over the last few weeks. Tornadoes have crossed Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Georgia, Colorado, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and North Carolina, causing damage and loss of life. Twisters were also reported in Texas and the West in California and in Wyoming. California also saw fires. Earthquakes shook Nevada. As if these events are not enough, during the hurricane season in the Atlantic in 2008, forecasters say that we will probably experience a season above the average.
No one can foresee when an emergency or disaster occurs, but if caught unprepared, a person faces a much greater burden and costs in resolving his legal affairs.
Here are five recommendations that will help you prepare better for natural disasters and other life-threatening situations:
1) Review your home, car and life insurance policy and understand the boundaries of coverage and policy. Especially go to the sections that deal with physical damage caused by fire, fires, winds, tornadoes, floods, rain, storms, hurricanes and earthquakes. Standard homeowners' policies usually cover damage from the wind, but not floods or storms. Sometimes flood insurance can be purchased separately. Most standard home insurance also does not cover damage caused by earthquakes. Check with the insurance provider whether a special earthquake insurance policy can be purchased. Comprehensive auto insurance will probably cover physical damage to vehicles caused by storms and earthquakes. Make sure to review the amounts of benefits in life insurance policies and update the users if necessary.
2) Create a life document file that is a collection of important legal documents. The file of life documents may include identification records such as a birth certificate and social security cards, contracts, documents, insurance policies, medical records, photographs and inventory of financial assets. Keeping records in one place is useful in case you need to grab them and go in case you need to quickly evacuate your area.
3) Form of draft will, life will and power of attorney. Tragic, stormy and earthquakes can cause injuries and take away lives. Preparing basic legal forms in advance can help ensure that your wishes are implemented and that the burden on family members is reduced. You can prepare legal forms yourself by downloading online country-specific documents or by consulting a lawyer in your local area to prepare documents for you.
4) Keep important documents in a safe place such as a home safe or a safe in a bank. Since these are vital records with a lot of personal information, maintaining in a safe place is necessary to prevent the misuse of your information.
5) Tell someone you trust about the location of your important documents. It can be a lawyer, a cousin or a close friend. There may be situations in which you are unable to communicate, and at least one person needs to know the location of your important documents. You can also have a back up of important records with a lawyer if you have one or a family member who lives in another geographic location.