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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Swan

Why Your Emergency Documents Won't Work in an Emergency

My estate plan is done! So that's it, right? Put it on the shelf and forget about it forever until I'm dead?

No way. An estate plan isn't just about the documents that distribute your assets after you die. A modern, comprehensive estate plan includes your health care documents that are invaluable in an emergency. For adults who are in good health, these are arguably the most important part of the plan.

Yet even those who have done the work to make the documents almost never have them when they're needed. That's because emergencies happen at inconvenient times and in inconvenient places. Emergencies don't care if your attorney's office is closed or if you're a thousand miles from home.

Here are the reasons why your emergency documents won't work in an emergency:

1. Your documents are not accessible. Are your documents in your safe deposit box at the bank, with no one else's name attached to the account? Then, when you're in an emergency, they'll be impossible to access. You did the right thing by putting them in a safe place, but the documents need to be accessible in order to work. Add a loved one's name to your safe deposit box, so if you are injured in an emergency, someone else knows where and how to access the information, and has permission.

2. No one knows where to find your documents, or even that they exist. It's no use spending the time and money to make an estate plan if no one knows it exists or if they can't find it. That's why conversations with loved ones are so important to the success of your plan. Make sure that the people who are part of your plan--your health care agent, your power of attorney--know these documents exist, who is part of them, and where they're kept.

3. Your documents are far away. Emergencies don't always happen around the corner from your local bank. That's why every plan that comes out of our office has DocuBank, a secure document repository that's accessible from anywhere in the world with an internet connection or a fax machine. Documents stored in DocuBank are available 24/7, and only accessible with a secure PIN. So, when you're traveling and there's an emergency, you don't need someone to run home for you and grab the papers from a folder in your desk. You can access them right away, when they're really needed.

DocuBank is an essential part of making sure our estate plans really work for you in the modern world. And we include a one-year DocuBank subscription with every estate plan we make.

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