Milk, bread, toilet paper, [financial plan, legal readiness documents]: Winter Storm Preparation, DC-Style!

As I write this on January 21, 2016, we in the Washington, DC area are well along on our pre-snowstorm panic and preparations. Mother Nature was kind enough to give us a sneak preview last night with about an inch of snow at the evening rush hour which created all kinds of chaos. Now, facing the prospect of a foot or more of snow, and a legit blizzard as well, the rush to the stores started early. The storm essentials, milk, bread, and toilet paper, are already in short supply. But apart from those “essentials,” are you really prepared for this storm or, for that matter, whatever the future brings?

Sadly I can predict that there likely will be several deaths and serious injuries in our area related to the storm, whether through accidents, heart attacks while shoveling snow, home fires, or similar tragedies. While you may have stocked up on the storm essentials, have you prepared your family in case a tragedy strikes you or a loved one?

Part of your preparation should include a review of your personal finances. Specifically, you should do an insurance check-up to make sure that you know what insurance coverage you have, that all beneficiary designations are correct, that all premiums are paid to date, and that your family knows what you have, where it is, how to access it. Your family should also know about your various bank and other financial accounts, including retirement plans, IRAs, etc. If they don’t know what you have and where it is it will add unneeded stress at an already difficult time for your loved ones. Further, even if you have good records and your account information can be found, can anyone get access to your accounts with the proper legal authority and password?

On the subject of proper legal documents, an essential legal readiness plan for every adult (and that means anyone over the age of 18—even dependent students!) should include the following: 1) A Durable General Power of Attorney to allow a trusted person(s) to act for you on financial and other matters if you become disabled; 2) A Health Care Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive/Living Will to allow someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so; and 3) A Will or Trust to make things easier for your loved ones upon your untimely death. You can learn more about these at and take a free assessment of your own legal and financial readiness.

The bottom line, while your loved ones will appreciate that you have milk in the fridge, bread in the cupboard, and toilet paper at the ready, should something unfortunate happen to you they will appreciate even more that you were thoughtful enough to truly be prepared for bad situations.

Reilly Law, PLC offers a complimentary personal organizer we call a Peace of Mind Plan Roadmap. Send us an email at and we will be happy to send you the newly updated fillable PDF Roadmap document for your own use.