Disaster planning is more than canned food and water.
Here in Miami we were recently spared the worst of what could have potentially been a very serious hurricane. But the devastation in the Florida Keys, the West Coast of Florida, more recently in Puerto Rico and in Mexico city got me thinking about what it means to prepare for natural disaster from a legal standpoint. There is so much to think about besides just buying canned food and water.
One great tip, especially in areas where water damage is of great concern, is to keep all important documents in a sealed plastic folder and bag. It's hard to pinpoint what are "important documents" when you're already in disaster planning mode, so it's a good idea to do this at the start of Hurricane season or before any threat of storms. Here are some, but not all, important documents you should consider having hard copies of and sealing those documents in a plastic bag:
1. Health - Health insurance card and copies of prescriptions.
2. Insurance Documents - A copy of all insurance policies for your personal property including Homeowners, Flood, Windstorm and Auto. If you own a business, a copy of your Commercial Property and Commercial General Liability policies.
3. Personal Documents (Yours and your family's)- State-issued ID card, social security card, birth certificates and passports.
4. Asset documentation - Deeds, mortgage documents or rental agreements, financial statements and account numbers, estate planning documents, authenticity certificates for art collections or expensive items.
5. Special considerations for Special Needs Families - If you care for a disabled adult, any Powers of Attorney, Guardianship documents, or any other document relating to the care or custody of that adult.
It is not a bad idea to keep scanned copies of all of these documents on a document "cloud"; however, don't rely on the cloud because infrastructure such as electricity, cable, and phone service may not be working after a major disaster.
Keep in mind that you will still need to do everything you would normally do to prepare for a hurricane, but this is an additional step to think about! If you find you need help preparing legal documents to have your affairs in order, do not hesitate to call us.