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With all of your planning– do you feel prepared for the sudden emergency phone call?

Let’s face it, despite careful preparation, emergencies can happen.

Imagine you get an unexpected call and must spring into action.  Perhaps the caller informs you that you need to get to the hospital quickly.  Or maybe you discover there is a fire headed your way and you need to evacuate.  Now!

estate and emergency planning

Are you Prepared to Run Out of the House Quickly?

Will you remember everything you need to take with you?

Maybe you will remember to grab a family photo album, but will you also remember to take the important items you might need?  Will you remember or have time to get your passports, birth certificates, original estate planning documents, home insurance information, prescriptions, Social Security cards, or other important documentation?

How long would it take to get these items together if you were forced to do it quickly?  Would you have enough time?  Would your kids or pets slow you down in any way?

Unless you planned ahead, it’s likely you won’t have enough time to grab all of the important items.

What kind of planning is needed?

Well, consider putting your important documents together in an easy-to-carry file.  This kind of file is sometimes referred to as a “Red File.”

An organized Red Plan might save you precious minutes, and perhaps even provide you with more time to do other important things before you run out the door.

Also, a red file may also make it easier for others to find important documents, if you weren’t able to retrieve them yourself.

What should go inside your Red File? 

Although it’s best for each person to put their own thought into this question, here are some common items you might consider including in your Red File:

List of Contact Information

  • Immediate Family Members—mobile phone numbers and email addresses
  • Primary Care Physician
  • Attorney
  • Accountant
  • Insurance Agent
  • Trustee
  • Financial Power of Attorney Agent
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney Agent
  • Executor / Personal Representative


Identification Documents

  • Birth Certificates
  • Social Security Cards
  • Passports
  • Marriage License
  • Certificate of Divorce
  • Naturalization Papers


  • Durable Power of Attorney (Financial)
  • Most Recent Tax Return
  • Bank Statement(s) and Online Account Information
  • Investment/Stock Account Statement(s) and Online Account Information
  • Credit Card Statements and Account Information

Home Accounts

  • Recent Mortgage Statement (or Lease/Rental Agreement)
  • Recent Utility Invoices:
    • Electricity/Natural Gas
    • Water/Sewer
    • Trash/Waste
    • Internet/Phone
    • Security System
  • Home Warranties

Other Account Information

  • Student Loans
  • Vehicle Leases
  • Automobile Title (“Pink Slip”)

Health Information

  • Vital health information for each family member, including
    • Blood type
    • Allergies
    • Pre-existing conditions
  • Immunization Record


  • House Insurance Policy
  • Earthquake Insurance Policy
  • Health Insurance Policy
  • Short- and Long-Term Disability Insurance Policy
  • Life Insurance Policy
  • Vehicle Insurance Policy
  • Pet Insurance Policy
  • Burial Insurance Policy

Estate Planning

  • Living Trust
  • Last Will & Testament
  • Living Will
  • Health Care Power of Attorney (Advance Healthcare Directive)
  • HIPAA Authorizations
  • Funeral Arrangements

(This list is not exhaustive!  Please consider your situation, and decide for yourself.)

Remember to keep your Red File someplace which is not only safe, but also easy to access.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that other family members are told where to find the Red File.

None of us can predict the future.  And none of us know what unexpected emergency could befall us.  But we can do our best to prepare.

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