“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
– George Burns
A lot of time and attention has gone into emergency preparedness in recent years. Many Americans have emergency plans in case of an earthquake or a flood. “Doomsday Preppers” go further, expecting a possible epidemic or economic collapse. And in 2011, the CDC published Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse as a tongue-in-cheek way to rally people of all ages into being “ready for anything.”
But how many people are truly prepared for the most commonly experienced emergencies?
Emergency preparedness is important, but even an underground shelter with water and canned goods stored won’t prepare you for the MOST likely emergencies that wreak havoc with our everyday lives: PERSONAL emergencies.
The fact is that few people know what to do in the event of an accident, injury, illness, or the unexpected death of a loved one. While many people assume that a life insurance policy, a will, health directives and a durable power of attorney constitute “preparedness,” even the people who have taken such steps often fail to leave instructions for their loved ones about dozens of seemingly small, but essential details.
We work hard at Partners for Prosperity, Inc. to help you prepare financially, but that is only one piece of the puzzle. For instance:
- You may have health insurance, life insurance, a will, health directives and a durable power of attorney… but does anyone know where to find those documents?
- If you have no will – does anyone know for sure, or will your loved ones embark on a frustrating search?
- Does anyone know how to pay your bills and keep your household running in the event of a serious injury or illness?
- What would someone need to know in order to care for your pets, your home, or even your children?
- Where are your important papers? Your extra car keys?
- Who knows which bills are on auto-pay? Where should someone look for your email password?
- What about emergency instructions for your job or business? (And the list goes on and on…)
Most of us are leaving our loved ones in the dark when it comes to navigating such details. Fortunately, our friend Lenore Vassil has made it her mission to change that!
A few years ago, Lenore was on an adventure vacation in Ibiza, Spain with family and friends. Hiking along beautiful yet treacherous shoreline cliffs, one of them posed the question: “If something were to happen to one of us, would anyone know what to do?”
The resounding unanimous answer was, “Absolutely not!”
Although some had made typical preparations in the way of insurance and wills, they realized all of the ways their loved ones would NOT be ready in the case of a personal emergency. They agreed it would be not simply an emotional burden, but a logistical disaster.
After discussing what friends and family might go through in such an event, one of them looked at Lenore (a technology executive for Fortune 500 companies at the time), and said, “Lenore, DO something about this!”
Lenore would go on to create a solution called The Torch, but not before she had the chance to experience first-hand the need for it.
Shortly after the trip to Spain, her father became suddenly ill with viral encephalitis, a condition that caused temporary dementia and robbed him of his memory for two long months. During this time, the whole family scrambled to run the household.
“How does money get deposited into the bank account?”
“Do statements come in the email or to email?”
“Are any bills on autopay?”
Lenore’s father had had always managed the household bills, and her mother was in the dark about how to navigate their finances. Fortunately, her father made a full recovery, but soon after, Lenore watched as another family went through chaos, as well as grief, following a friend’s disappearance. After he went missing on an extreme surfing expedition, his family searched in vain for months, not knowing if a will or life insurance policy existed.
Lenore knew she had to do something. After researching existing solutions and finding them problematic, she left her position as a corporate executive to create one. A short while later, The Torch was born.
The Torch is software designed to communicate instructions for “what if” life scenarios. Using it helps people be ready for an emergency by helping them give directions to those close to them who might need those directions someday.
Using the Torch helps to solve a lot of common problems:
- A whopping $42 BILLION of unclaimed assets are held by the states, largely because people don’t always tell others what they own.
- 28% of Americans live alone, the highest it has ever been. But without something in writing, many states require court approval for anyone, even family, to make medical decisions for them.
- Sharing who your doctor is ensures you will have the best care possible in the event of an emergency.
- More than $1 billion of life insurance goes unclaimed, because heirs do not know the policies exist.
- Now that online bill statements are the norm, it is difficult for anyone to pay bills on your behalf without email access or instructions.
Now as Lenore shares The Torch with others, they share stories with her. Stories of bank accounts they could not access for years after a parent’s death… stories of boats in storage that no one would ever be able to find… stories of hospitalized friends who could not benefit from their own medical records for months.
While digital storage solutions exist (and make a great companion with The Torch), none of them facilitate the depth of communication about our lives that The Torch does. Even people who think they are “ready for anything” typically have huge gaps in the information and instructions left for loved ones and advisors.
This one-minute video gives a quick overview of how The Torch works:
The Torch is a unique solution because:
- It’s easy to use, even if you don’t feel organized and don’t have all your ducks in a row.
- It helps you identify your “missing ducks” and gently remind you of them, while providing helpful resources.
- The Torch focuses on leaving instructions – not details. Instead of sharing critical confidential information and documents, it prompts people to share where to FIND those things.
- The Torch provides a way to update and share the instructions so that loved ones and advisors have the information when they need it.
- The Torch is holistic. From bill-paying to medical concerns, to pets, dependents, insurance, even where your will can be located, The Torch helps you think of everything.
As one of Lenore’s friends observed, news coverage of the 9/11 tragedy illuminated the fact that many of the victims spent their last moments on the phone with family, not sharing expressions of love, but instead, giving instructions for where to find insurance policies and other critical financial information.
No one can predict what sort of emergency they may find themselves involved it, but everyone can prepare for the unexpected.
Light the Way for Someone in the Dark
We are thrilled to recommend The Torch to clients, friends, and advisors. Use coupon code p4p5off to receive $5 off as our Thank-You for being a loyal subscriber. We receive nothing for recommending this tool, we simply think it is a brilliant tool and one that we are grateful to have access to in our work with clients.
Nobody knows what the future will bring, but we can each take action now to help our loved ones be not only ready for an emergency, but “ready for anything.” We urge you to light YOUR Torch today!
Listen to our follow-up conversation on Guide to Financial Peace Radio: Are You Financially Ready for an Emergency?