Protecting Your Assets Before an Emergency Strikes
From superstorm Sandy to the tornadoes of 2011, severe weather events have taken their toll on homeowners across the country over the past several years. Such natural emergencies not only impact our personal well being and living space, but our financial health as well.
According to asset protection lawyer and author Hillel L. Presser, preventative steps should be taken in advance to avoid a financial crisis in the wake of a natural disaster. He offers these tips for safeguarding your assets now:
- Protect your assets from lawsuits. One way to do this is by protectively titling non-exempt assets. Exempt assets vary by state and may include such things as your primary residence and personal furniture; make sure to check your specific state exemptions – those items generally should not need any extra protection. However, non-exempt assets, such as bank accounts, recreational vehicles and the like, should be titled in the names of corporations, limited partnerships, domestic trusts and other entities.
- Have adequate insurance. In fact, over-insure your assets! Those include – but are not limited to – your car, home, and other valuables. You never know what you could lose in a natural disaster.
- Safeguard your paperwork. Collect and copy all paperwork and have it accessible in the event you must evacuate. Give the second copy to a trusted financial advisor, attorney or trustee for safekeeping. Take a video of every room and keep an itemized asset list with your paperwork. That way, you’ll have the documentation to present to your insurance company when filing a claim. Photos and videos, as well as receipts and documents showing the value of those assets will help.
- Safeguard your business. Create a plan of action to implement in the event of a natural disaster, and practice implementing it. Hurricane Sandy illustrated the problems business owners faced in trying to resume operations during widespread power outages and equipment destroyed by floodwaters. Do you have a generator? Can you utilize cloud computing? Keep a record of all payrolls and business documents remotely so that if you don’t have access to your business dwelling, you can still access copies of all important business documentation.
- Make sure your estate plan is up to date. Everyone should have an updated estate plan, including minor children. Choose one trustworthy person to be the executor of your estate. This person should have a hard copy of your financial account information and list of your assets, including intellectual property and passwords that you can access in the event of a natural disaster.