Here in California, we know that between earthquakes and fires, the possibility of our home being destroyed is, while unlikely, nonetheless a very real possibility. The most important thing in a disaster is to get all of the people and animals out of the house safely and grab a few irreplaceable mementos if possible.
Many Californians store important legal documents in their homes. If those are destroyed or lost in a disaster, it can be extremely time-consuming and difficult to replace them. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to keep digital copies of all of our important documents. However, if our computers are lost, unless those documents are saved using cloud-based technology, things like password lists can be lost forever.
No one wants to think about the worst-case scenario, but it’s essential to make sure that your loved ones have access to your estate plan documents and other information they’ll need if something happens to you in a disaster and your home is destroyed as well. By keeping this information stored safely in the cloud, it will be accessible by those whom you designate to have it. It’s also wise to make sure that people like your estate planning attorney have copies of the documents as well.
Following are some items that you should ensure that your loved ones and/or the people you’ve designated to have powers of attorney can access if they need to:
- Passwords to access your accounts and other secured information
- Account numbers and names of financial institutions as well as information about the location of any safe deposit boxes
- Contact information for your pet caregiver, attorney, insurance agent and doctors
- Estate planning documents and other legal documents, such as prenuptial agreements
- Insurance policies
- Tax returns from recent years
- Deeds to property
Once these items are secured online, make sure that the appropriate people know how to access them. If you have an executor and a successor chosen for your estate, they should know where to get these documents and have the necessary password or other information to access them. Your attorney can provide valuable guidance as you organize this information.