In light of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I wanted to cover all of the essential steps in creating a family emergency plan; which includes estate planning!

Estate planning in Newport Beach is considered “emergency planning” in that it forces you to think ahead and plan for the care of your family and assets if something unexpected happens to you.

For example, if you were suddenly killed following a natural disaster striking the coast, estate planning would give your family a clear roadmap as to who should care for your kids and how to carry out your other long-term wishes when the dust eventually settles.

Or perhaps there is not total devastation, but you are seriously injured in the mix.  Again, when life returns back to normal, estate planning will help guide the hospital, doctors and your family as to the type of care you want (or don’t want) if you are unable to speak for yourself for any length of time.

So now that you know the “whys” behind creating a comprehensive emergency plan; let’s run down a brief checklist of the “what’s” that you’ll need to carry it out.

The first thing you need is a traditional emergency kit. The American Red Cross recommends you keep the following on hand in the event a disaster strikes:

-Water – 1 gallon per person, per day (a three-day supply for evacuations and a two-week supply for home)
-Food – non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (same supply as water, above); keep a manual can opener handy
-Flashlight and spare batteries
-First aid kit
-Sanitation and personal hygiene items
-Family and emergency contact information
-Extra cash
-Emergency blankets
-Medical supplies for individual family members: hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, canes and so forth)
-Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
-Games and activities for children
-Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
-Extra set of car keys and house keys

The second step is to make a plan:
-Create an emergency home-exit strategy for each family member (you should also include alternative exit routes in case the primary path of escape is blocked.)
-Get any materials necessary to carry out your home-exit strategy,( i.e ladders for second floor windows, apparatus to break glass.)
-Decide on a central location where everyone in your family could meet if communication systems went down.
-Research places of refuge. Get familiar with the location of emergency shelters, fire stations and hospitals so you can quickly reach them if disaster strikes.

Finally, get your Newport Beach estate planning in order:

-If you have minor children, make sure you have legally documented your choice of guardians so there is no question as to where they should go if something happens to you.
-Meet with a Newport Beach estate planning attorney and have your basic estate planning documents created if you haven’t done so already (will, trust, power of attorney, advance health care directive, etc).
-If you already have an estate plan, pull it out of the drawer and make sure it’s up-to-date.  Are your kids now grown and out of the house? You’ll need to amend your plan.  Have you acquired new assets since you first created your will or trust? You’ll need to update your plan there as well.  Have the laws changed?  If you’re not sure, bring your documents into an attorney’s office and have them reviewed.

If you need assistance getting the estate planning portion of your emergency plan in place, please call our office at (949) 260-1400 and ask to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session.