We all witnessed the unpredictable weather this winter – including storms that left inches of snow on the ground and the kids out of school for days at a time. I’m so thankful that I stocked up on much-needed emergency items last year because they were a lifesaver for me and my family. We didn’t have to run out in bad weather and fight frustrated, last-minute shoppers to stock up. We were able to hunker down and shelter in place without needing a thing.
In the wake of the harsh winter weather, the importance of planning and preparing for a natural disaster has become paramount. Not to mention, we have already seen tornadoes in the mid-west and the nation has entered hurricane season.
If you’ve ever lived through life-changing weather, then you know preparedness is key. The last thing you want to think about while trying to locate belongings is proof of who you are and where you live. Take steps now to lower your stress level if disaster hits home.
We want to help you get started. Here’s what paperwork you should have handy in case of an emergency:
- financial statements and account numbers, including that of your emergency savings fund;
- mortgage documents or rental/lease agreements;
- copies of prescriptions for medications and key identification papers (driver’s licenses, passports, birth certificates, and Social Security cards);
- updated homeowners, renters, and automobile insurance policies; and
- records of taxes paid.
Keep these documents safe, such as in a safe deposit box or a sealable plastic bag, and in close proximity to grab in a hurry. Receiving assistance after a natural disaster often requires the above paperwork or proof of identity. Disaster Assistance, a resource for disaster-stricken individuals, outlines how you can recover lost personal documents on its website. We have created a Disaster Handbook available for download here. This is a free printable to help you get organized with a disaster plan BEFORE you need it.
The Red Cross’ website also has more information on what you can do to prepare for possible disasters. If you are on the flip side and want to help those who have been affected by disasters, check out the IRS website. This site also lists tax relief areas in case you are unsure of your status after a disaster.
Financial relief after a disaster may come in the form of amending a previous tax return to take advantage of tax breaks and casualty loss deductions. To accurately deduct repair and replacement costs, consider having your taxes prepared by a professional. Liberty Tax Service amends federal tax returns for casualty losses – at no charge. We have always offered these amendments for free, but we want to remind those who are facing astronomical hardships that we are here to help. To find a local Liberty Tax office, contact us at 1-877-at-Liberty.