Post by: Darra Wray, Founder – My Data Diary, LLC (Originally posted June 24, 2020)
Having the right information, in the right place, and at the right time will save you time, money and frustration. It might even save your life!
Experience is a wonderful teacher, and if the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we need to be prepared for the unexpected! Bouncing back from a crisis depends, in large part, on our readiness to respond. And, having access to important documents and information is one important step in responding to many types of crisis situations.
In the event of an emergency, there are four main types of documents and information you should gather and organize for easy access:
- Personal Documents
- Health Records and Insurance Information
- Financial Documents
- Advance Directives and Estate Plans
Make sure that you have physical and electronic copies of the personal, vital and legal documents that mark your life events such as:
- Birth certificates
- Adoption papers
- Social Security card
- Driver’s license
- Other forms of identification (VA, employment, etc)
- Marriage certificates (all marriages)
- Divorce decrees (all divorces)
- Death certificates (immediate family)
- Citizenship documents
- Military service records & discharge documents
These documents are required for various legal transactions throughout your lifetime and may be needed in an emergency to prove your identity or legal status.
REMINDER: Make sure that all original legal documents are stored in a secure and firesafe location.
Health Records & Insurance Information
To ensure that you can get the best care possible with the least impact to you financially wherever you may be, you will want to make sure that you have physical and electronic access to:
- Insurance cards
- List of current medications (prescription and over the counter) with dosages
- Summary health history including blood type, allergies, medical conditions
- Immunization records
Access to financial resources can be critical to your recovery from an unexpected emergency. Make sure that you and your care companions have access to information and documents related to:
- Bank and credit accounts
- Investment and retirement accounts
- Insurance policies (life, home, auto, etc)
- Auto titles and property deeds
- Tax returns
Advance Directives & Estate Plans
If your emergency leads to end of life preparations for you or someone you love, you will want to make sure that you have access to:
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Living Will
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) or POST/POLST (Physician Order for Scope of Treatment) forms
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Will / Trust
Because access to your information and documents can be compromised by travel, evacuations, stay at home orders, and other situations that make it impossible for you to access your original documents where they are physically stored, we recommend making electronic copies of your documents for ease of access in an emergency. You can create electronic copies by scanning documents from a printer, using a scanning app on your phone, or even taking photos of single page documents with your phone. Once you have digitized your documents, make sure they are stored securely in a location that is accessible to you anywhere, at any time. Technology today makes this task simple and affordable with tools like the My Data Diary+ Family Information Management Solution.
While the only certainty in today’s world is uncertainty, we do know that having the right information, in the right place, and at the right time can save you time, money and frustration. It could even save your life!
Darra Wray is a Care Consultant and Certified Senior Advisor in Boise, Idaho. She founded My Care Companions and My Data Diary, LLC to help family caregivers streamline and simplify the business of life.