Last year, or maybe the year before, my friend Doug Nordman started talking about a nifty new printable workbook offered by Chelsea of Smart Money Mamas. This printable workbook is called In Case of Emergency Binder, Everything Your Loved Ones Need To Know.
I thought it was interesting, but never really got around to purchasing it. And then, we got a phone call that a family member was on the way to the emergency room with a suspected stroke.
The next few days were chaotic. Between spending time at the hospital, we were frantically digging in file cabinets, dresser drawers, and stacks of papers trying to figure out the bare minimum of what we needed to know to keep the household running while our loved one was in the hospital. What bills were due when? Who had power of attorney to sign checks? Had the annual property taxes, due that month, been paid?
Thankfully, our family member made a full recovery, but it was a sobering experience, and it was a good reminder that keeping 3/4 of our family’s financial life inside MY brain was not the best possible set-up.
And then I remembered this binder that Doug had been talking about! I went over to Smart Money Mamas and downloaded it. And then I forgot about it. And then I came back and printed it out, and put it into a binder, and filled out two pages, and then I put it aside. And then I came back to it…you see the pattern here.
Anyway, I’m now “done enough” to give this product my wholehearted endorsement. This printable workbook has 170 pages crammed full of important information that someone might need to know if you’re not available to tell them. From family information to pets to what stuffed animals your child needs to sleep, this binder has it covered.
There are two main parts, with each half broken down into sub-section. The first part is Family Information. This includes, or includes a place for:
- Phone numbers for immediate family, friends and neighbors, and extended family
- Legal documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates, adoption documents (I put mine in sheet protectors)
- Health insurance information, doctors, and medical information including allergies and medications
- Medical powers of attorney for children, wills, durable powers of attorney
- Notes for caring for children (regular activities, favorite things, family traditions)
- Notes for caring for pets (food, medications, vet)Insurance information (homeowners/renters, auto, life, umbrella, disability)
- Bills, when they’re paid, how they’re paid, logins, etc.
- Bank accounts
- Credit cards
The second half of the workbook contains more technical information, including or including a place for:
- Wills or where to find them
- Safes and safe deposit boxes
- Access to digital data
- Employer information
- Military information
- Social media and website information
- Investment documents
- Titles/deeds/lease agreements
- Steps to paying bills each month
- Investment strategy
- Rental property information
- Life insurance plans
- Memorial preference
- There’s even a section that I can’t face yet, to write notes to your loved ones.
If this seems like a lot, that’s because it is a lot. While I am sure that there are some people who will need to add details for their specific situations, this is a pretty darn comprehensive book.
How To Use The In Case of Emergency Binder
As I said, this is a comprehensive book. That means there will be sections that don’t apply to you. I suggest you print out the whole thing with one page per side. (Do not try to save paper by making it double sided. This will end poorly. Trust me.) If you want to be more economical or more environmentally friendly, read through it on your screen and only print out the pages you need. Either way works.
Once you have the whole thing printed, go through and pull out the things that don’t apply to you. For example, we do not currently have a pet, so I took that section out.
Punch everything with a three ring punch and put it in whatever works for you – it will fit in a folder with prongs, or a slim binder. I keep mine in our “everything” binder that includes our passports, wills, medical directives, birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc. It zips up and has a red ribbon tied around the handle. We keep it on a hook by the back door and everyone knows that if there is an emergency, they should grab that binder on the way out.
This binder is not a complete plan – you still need wills and advance medical directives and powers of attorney, and maybe other documents depending on your situation. But it covers all the important day-to-day things that someone would need to step in and handle things if you are unable. Just knowing that document is available can provide amazing peace of mind and make life a lot easier if it is needed.
I strongly encourage you to purchase the In Case of Emergency Binder now, and fill it out. In the event that something happens, your family will thank you.
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