ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

The Importance of Planning: Create an Emergency Packet

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

the lessons never end

Life, with its twists and turns, presents us with certainties we often prefer to overlook—sickness, mortality, and the unexpected. These topics rarely claim space in our day-to-day conversations, yet they remain an undeniable reality.

In my years as a guide through the realms of financial planning and insurance, I’ve encountered numerous instances where clients faced illness, hospitalization, or life-altering diagnoses. A friend once remarked, “The stuff you’ve been selling for the last 25 years is finally coming true.”

Translation: aging is universal, and while it’s convenient to postpone contemplation on these matters, illness and mortality touch us all.

One aspect that frequently emerges, surprising in its significance, is the prevalence of passwords as vital information within our personal ecosystems. Passwords guarding phones, emails, safes, and online accounts now hold crucial importance. I’ve even layered passcodes atop passwords to fortify the shield around my online presence.

When life takes an unexpected turn, the last thing our loved ones should endure is a scavenger hunt for critical information. I call this crucial data “Waldo,” the linchpin that holds the keys to our vital documents—power of attorney, health directives, financial portfolios, insurance policies, and the roster of contacts (CPAs, attorneys, advisors).

Picture the distress of assuming funeral expenses were prepaid, only to struggle locating the necessary paperwork. Let this serve as a gentle nudge to revisit and reassess your estate plan, life insurance beneficiaries, retirement arrangements, and beyond.

Create an Emergency Packet for your family. Whether physical or digital, it should include all the vital documents in one place. Once you create it, tell your family it’s location and how to access it if it’s behind a safeguard.

Having witnessed and experienced these “Where’s Waldo” scenarios both professionally and personally, I can tell you that being prepared and making these items easily accessible is one additional way you can show how much you love your family.

(However, as I’ve told my kids and continue to remind them, they’d better treat me well; if they don’t, I have no problem playing Where’s Waldo from the grave too. I guess it’s the reverse way of me showing them I love them; if they want my passwords and information, they’ll need to work for them. There is no free lunch!)

As for where to safeguard these folders, the choice is yours. Whether in a physical safe, your desk drawer, or an agreed-upon location, communication with your loved ones about their whereabouts is crucial. Some individuals even maintain vital documents in a folder labeled “Call Brett.” The simplicity of this approach cannot be overstated. Making these documents easily accessible significantly alleviates stress and time for your loved ones during challenging times.