As I sit here writing this article, Hurricane Irma is bearing down on Cuba, destined to turn right and go straight up and through Florida. By now, I realize it's old news, the results are known, and the rebuild is well on it's way. My brother just put up his hurricane shutters, and tells me its like a cave in the house now, all boarded up with no view of the outside. The bathtub is filled with water, he has the generator ready, 6 cases of water, batteries, flashlights, food and all the things necessary to prepare for a potential catastrophe. The funny thing is, now is the calm before the storm. With a historic storm coming, the weather is beautiful, the sun is shining, and what do you do in Florida when you can't do anything more? Obviously, you go to the pool with your friends and have a pre-hurricane party! Why waste a beautiful Florida day?
A good part of financial and estate planning is preparedness. When I meet with new folks for the first time, they are surprised to find that money is the last thing I like to talk about. Safety and security of family and the necessities of life: house, car, etc. are on the top of the list. I'll ask you to read the article slowly, and ask yourself if you've got the following issues covered-be honest, and remember: it's for your own good and welfare.
Wills, trusts and legal documents...firstly, do you have any? Two out of every five new folks I chat with don't have any legal documents at all. This to me makes no sense at all. The will document is a roadmap of what is to happen with your stuff- and your children- when you are not here to direct: who gets what, perhaps supports family members who may need assistance, who are going to take care of your minor children...you get the idea. You can't go with the adage "they know what to do." Let's be clear: in the eye of the law, if its' not in writing, witnessed and notarized, their opinion means nothing. The only thing that means anything is the instructions you left behind- otherwise the decisions may be made by a judge who has never met your kids, or has any emotional tie to the things you hold near and dear. Kids- if you love them protect them. Anything can happen to you at any time, regardless of how immortal you think you are. The 4000-pound car barreling down the wrong side of the road doesn't care who you are- life could be over in a flash...and then what, for the people left behind? If you do have your documents in order, have you dusted them off and reviewed them? Things change, and your documents have to change with them.
Insurance...the issue we all hate to talk about let alone pay. However, if you've ever had a catastrophic loss, you know how much you leaned on your policies. Review them all with your agent- make sure the coverages are adequate, and up with the current values of life and property.
By now, you're about to stop reading, getting bored and can't wait to see the ads on the next page. This is your life- face it head on and keep on reading.
Back to business. Is your house ready for a storm or hurricane at any time? If not, you've got some work to do. The time to scramble is not the time everybody else is, crowds are crazy, supplies are limited and prices are high. Why not prepare on a nice sunny day when nobody else is? Perhaps a generator and a dozen extension cords, a few gas cans, canned food and a stack of bottled water you constantly evolve. Just think about Irma coming...what would you be doing if you were in Florida to prepare, and do it now...later may be too late.
Money...that commodity that is needed to get anything. Do you have a stash of cash available to you if possible? Remember...if the electricity is out, so are the ATM's, the gas pumps, and everything electronic. Cash is king, and so will you be.