Make a New Year’s Resolution that Protects Your Home, Family
By Philip Burum
In this upcoming interval between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, most Americans will be compiling New Year’s Resolutions that will survive the season with varying results. However, if you are a homeowner or planning on realizing your American Dream of homeownership in the near or distant future, here is a resolution you can make and keep – and it will protect your family, future and what may be the biggest and best investment you will make in your lifetime: prepare now for a possible emergency.
While Southern Californians can look forward to a winter basking in our mild Mediterranean climate, we still must be vigilant when it comes to preparing for extreme weather events, wildfires or power outages. More importantly, preparing for these events also offers a terrific opportunity to protect all the important documents you will need for non-emergencies and major life events such as purchasing a new home.
Find a secure place in your home in which to store important documents with backup copies stored in at least one additional, equally secure place such as a safe deposit box in your bank. A fire- and waterproof box that can be locked and is small enough to carry is a good way to keep documents nearby and safe from damage or theft. Copies can also be stored with a family member or friend. Remember to scan or photograph your originals and save them on a portable storage device.
- Critical documents that you should be able to quickly access include:
Passports, birth certificates and social security cards
- Insurance policies, policy numbers and contact information
- Copies of wills, living wills, powers of attorney and healthcare proxies
- Bank, retirement and investment accounts, account numbers and contact information
- Titles to your car or home and sales receipts or proof of ownership of other high-value items,
- Loan or debt obligations such as mortgages or credit cards, account numbers, balances and contact information.
- Medical histories, physicians’ contact information, dental records, past years’ tax filings, and Internet account user IDs and passwords.
Videos are a good way to record your material possessions and will help you remember everything and prove ownership for insurance claims in the case of an emergency. Be sure to get close-ups of serial numbers and talk about the purchase date and price of each item as you record.
Before moving holiday items in or out of garages, closets or storage; ensure that your family members or a trusted friend can locate these immediately in the event of an emergency. Remember, you will need many of these documents come tax season and when you go shopping for a home, so take the time to secure your important papers now and save you hours of resorting to take those first steps to purchasing a new home or car.
Then, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) www.Ready.gov website, which provides a toolkit with downloadable resources, reports and guides. These resources will help you to prepare, plan for and stay informed about natural and man-made disasters.
Stock cupboards and closets with anything you might need if you have to shelter-in-place inside your home. Load up on bottled water, canned food and First Aid supplies. Keep a battery-operated radio and, several flashlights in case of power outages and stock brand new packages of live batteries and keep extra blankets and warm clothes available in case of utility outages.
The BIA Baldy View Chapter seeks to advance the opportunity to attain the American Dream of home ownership. For additional information on homebuying, home improvements or the benefits of homeownership, go to www.biabuild.com on the web – and have a Happy New Year!