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Get Ready For Hurricane Season
Hurricane Floyd - Image Courtsey of NOAA

Hurricane Floyd - Image Courtsey of NOAA

June 1 marks the first day of Hurricane Season in Florida. Now is the time to make sure that you and your family are prepared.

Prepare an Emergency Disaster Kit

A disaster emergency kit should include enough supplies to last at least three days. FEMA has prepared a comprehensive emergency supply list, here are a few items that should be included in your kit:

  • Water: at least one gallon per day per person for drinking and sanitation;
  • Food and utensils: foods that are ready to eat and not quickly perishable are ideal;
  • Blankets and extra clothing;
  • A first aid kit, including medical insurance and Medicaid cards;
  • A battery-powered radio and/or a NOAA weather radio;
  • A flashlight with extra batteries;
  • Change of clothing;
  • Extra set of keys;
  • Medical supplies: including prescription medications, an extra pair of glasses, hearing-aid batteries and any other personally needed medical devices;
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items (toilet paper, plastic garbage bags);
  • Cell phone with an extra battery and charger;
  • An emergency contact list: to reach family, friends and emergency numbers;
  • Extra cash: access to banks and ATMs may be limited for a time.

Locate and Secure Your Important Documents

This is a good opportunity locate your important documents and make sure they are stored in a safe and secure location and not at risk of water damage. Documents secure can include:

  • Medical history and medication list
  • Property deeds and/or leases
  • Promissory notes
  • Birth certificates and/or adoption records
  • Court papers
  • Stock certificates
  • Immunization records
  • Passports
  • Social security cards
  • Family heirlooms and photo books
  • Insurance policies
  • Estate Planning documents

Make sure your computer and electronic devices are backed up and the backup hard drives are stored in a secure location where they will not be damaged. You may want to consider backing up your data to a secure cloud service in the event your computer is lost or damaged.

Check Your Insurance Coverage

Talk with your insurance agent to be sure that you have adequate insurance coverage. Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage and may not provide full coverage for other hazards or may have increased deductibles.

Take Special Care for Seniors

Seniors need to take special care when preparing for emergencies. In the case of a hurricane, extended power outages are common. Therefore it’s important to keep special care items such as extra medication, oxygen, and backup batteries to supply power to equipment and refrigeration for medication that requires it.

Prepare For Emergencies Now: Information For Older Americans is a brochure available from FEMA that outlines commonsense measures older Americans can take to start preparing for emergencies before they happen.

When a hurricane strikes or is anticipated, most counties will set up Special Needs Shelters for individuals who require additional assistance. If at all possible, a caregiver should accompany special needs shelter clients to provide additional assistance.

Other Resources

Here are a few other resources that you may find useful in preparing for hurricanes and other natural disasters:

Katie Floyd
Katie Floyd Gives “Tech You Can Use” Presentation to the Family Law Section
Katie Floyd, Kyle Lewis and Rick Knellinger

Katie Floyd, Kyle Lewis and Rick Knellinger

Attorney Katie Floyd partnered up with Attorney Richard Knellinger and Kyle Lewis of Knellinger, Jacobson & Associates to give a presentation to the Eighth Judicial Circuit Family Law Section on “Tech You Can Use.”

The presentation focused primarily on technology that can be utilized by the solo and small firm practitioner to enhance productivity. Topics that were covered included mobile scanning apps, PDF converters, virtual receptionists, scheduling tools, conference calling services, text expansion and more. A copy of the presentation is available on Slideshare for viewing.

Katie Floyd is a nationally-recognized speaker on various technology issues and is a frequent lecturer on the use of technology and the practice of law. If you would like Ms. Floyd to consider speaking at your event, you can contact our office for more information.

Katie Floyd
What Should You Do With Your Estate Planning Documents?

So you’ve prepared an estate plan, that’s great news. You’re already ahead of 50% of Americans who have no formal estate plan. Now, what should you do with these documents?

Clients often ask us for advice on what to do with these documents. Where should they keep them and who should they share the documents with.  The answer really depends on your comfort level, but we can offer a few guidelines.

Hang on to those originals!

Your original documents are very important as they are the best evidence of your estate plan. In fact, Florida law requires that your original Will be deposited with the clerk of the court after your death. It’s very important that you keep your original documents in a safe, but accessible place so your heirs and family will be able to access them when needed.

Not in a Safe Deposit Box

Contrary to popular belief, your safe deposit box is generally not a good place to store your estate planning documents. Florida requires a court order to open the safe deposit box of the deceased. This means your family can end up spending thousands of dollars on a probate that may be unnecessary just to open your safe deposit box.

If you insist on storing your original documents in a safe deposit box, and we don’t recommend it, consider adding a joint owner to the box and confirming with the institution that person can access the box without you.

Store Your Documents In A Safe, But Accessible Place

For most clients, we recommend they store their estate planning documents in their home or office with other important papers. It’s important that these documents be protected from fire and flood. Therefore you may want to consider a fireproof and waterproof safe. Of course, make sure that someone knows how to access the safe should something happen to you.

While your documents should be put in a safe place and protected from “prying eyes” you should not hide your documents. Your fiduciaries and family will need them should something happen to you. If your documents cannot be found, you will be presumed to have died without a will.

Depending on your personal and family circumstances I suggest that you let your fiduciaries know where your estate planning documents are in the event they need to access them, yet still keep the document put away and protected.

Consider Who To Share Copies of Your Documents With

For most clients, the decision of whether not to share copies of their estate planning documents is a very personal decision and depends on their comfort level and family circumstances.

You may want to consider providing your medical providers with copies of your healthcare related documents for their files. This would include the HIPAA authorization, Designation of Healthcare Surrogate, Designation of Healthcare Surrogate for Minors and Living Wills.

However, keep in mind that sometimes sharing your documents can invite unwanted comments, suggestions, or hurt feelings. You may want to have a more in-depth discussion about this with your attorney at the time you draft your documents.

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Katie Floyd
Katie Floyd Named Paul Harris Fellow

Last week,  Sunrise Rotary Gainesville celebrated the club’s 35th anniversary. At this milestone occasion, the club exceeded their goal of naming 35 new Paul Harris Fellows and were joined by District Governor Marshall Butler, District Foundation Chair Cynde Covington and Past District Governor John Brunner.

Attorney Katie Floyd was among the Rotarians named a Paul Harris Fellow at the celebration.

The Paul Harris Fellow recognition was established in 1957 to show appreciation for and encourage substantial contributions to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.

Sunrise Rotary Gainesville is an active club of about 60 members who take pride in their community service projects. The club is committed to achieving remarkable goals through service to people and organizations. The club meets weekly on Thursday mornings at 7:00 a.m. at the Hilton at the University of Florida you can learn more about the club through their website or Facebook.

Firm NewsKatie Floyd
Don't Wait To Plan Your Estate

When times are good, estate planning is probably one of the last things on your mind. We understand you’re busy and you have other things to do with your time and money. It’s hard for many clients to justify the time and expense associated with creating a comprehensive estate plan when there are so many other things competing for your time and attention.

The truth is, “the good times” are the best times to prepare an estate plan. This is the time when we have the most options open and available to us to plan for the future and to protect assets.

The reality is, most people wait for something bad to happen before they think about estate planning. Often clients come to our office after they’ve just been through a difficult probate with a loved one and want to spare their family the same process. Sometimes clients come to me after they’ve been diagnosed with an illness and need to put their affairs in order. Often we receive calls after tragedy strikes.

One of the most frequent calls we receive is from adult children of aging parents who are looking for ways to help a parent who can no longer live independently. The writing has been on the wall for years, but no one wanted to talk about it until it reached a crisis point. Unfortunately, by the time we reach this point our options are severely limited.

The consequences of waiting to prepare a comprehensive state plan are numerous. They can include:

  • Added Stress: One of the best gifts you can give your loved ones is a well-planned estate. In the midst of a crisis, a comprehensive estate plan offers guidance and support. If you’re in the midst of crisis the last thing you want to be doing is trying to coordinate emergency estate planning
  • Additional Costs: Emergency estate planning is possible, but comes at an additional cost. To handle a crisis estate planning case we have to turn down other work, make visits to the hospital, rush documents or arrange out of office witnesses. This all comes at an additional price.
  • Reduced Options: Emergency planning will typically reduce the options available to a client. This can be due to time constraints, the circumstances and a number of other factors. Additionally, a client must have a certain mental capacity to execute an estate plan. Sometimes it may not be possible for the client to execute documents and the family may be faced with much more expensive guardianship proceedings.

Estate planning isn’t just something that you should put on the back burner and wait for it to boil over. Proactive planning will provide you with the most benefit, save money and give your loved ones peace of mind in a crisis.

A well-planned estate is one of the best gifts you can give your family. Click here to learn more and setup a free consultation to get started.

Did you enjoy this post? You can connect with my office through Facebook, Twitter, via RSS or subscribe to the newsletter to receive updates on the law and insider news and information. Please share this post with your friends and through social media.