Emergencies can be large or small in scale and can happen at any time. Much of the information about preparing for emergencies is focused on household or personal disaster planning. Many of us do not think to prepare our financial interests in advance. The ability to maintain financial stability in the event of an emergency will help your family get back on its feet faster.
Operation Hope, Inc. (OHI) is America’s first non-profit social investment bank and a national leader in providing financial literacy and economic empowerment programs. In partnership with Citizen Corps, Operation HOPE developed the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK). The EFFAK is a simple tool designed to assist you and your family with emergency financial planning. You can complete the EFFAK as an individual or as a household, but you should include information on all accounts for which you have a legal responsibility or obligation. Click here to complete this planning guide. If you need assistance completing your EFFAK, please call 1-888-388-HOPE (4673).
Operation HOPE suggests the following five tips to prepare for an emergency
1. Complete all sections of the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK):
- Personal Household Information
- Professional Advisors and Health Care Providers
- Checklist of Important Legal Documents and Financial Statements
- Private Security / Access Information
Also be sure to collect all supporting original documentation. If you do not have the
original document, contact the appropriate office/authority to obtain a reissued copy.
Date all forms as you complete them.
2. Review all the supporting documentation for accuracy and to be sure the document is still in effect. For example, if you are a homeowner, be sure that your property coverage is still
adequate and take photographs or a video of valuable personal property; if you are a
renter, be sure that your lease clearly states the amount of your current rent. If you store financial records on your computer, have a backup file on diskette and remember to update the diskette at least quarterly. If there are any documents that you should have but presently don’t, such as a will, living will, life insurance or health coverage, take the necessary steps immediately to obtain these items.
3. Once your documents are in order, make a copy of your completed Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) — all the completed forms and the relevant legal documents.
4. Keep your EFFAK in a safe place. Store your completed EFFAK, all original
documents, photographs, and computer backup disks in an off-site safety deposit
box. Be sure to keep this key in a safe place. In addition, keep a copy of your EFFAK and copies of your original documents at home in a fireproof/waterproof metal box or safe. Because ATMs do not work when electricity is out or they may not be restocked during an emergency, be sure to include some $10 and $20 bills in your storage box.
If you have an attorney, you may also want to provide him or her with a copy of your
EFFAK in a sealed envelope to be opened with your approval or in the event you become incapacitated.
5. Update your EFFAK kit whenever your documents change. For example, if you sell or buy a house, get married or divorced, change your will, have new tax filings, a new passport or change your parental status, your EFFAK should be updated. At a minimum, be sure to review and update your EFFAK at least once a year.