Library patrons told to make Critical Life Inventory

Vital information can provide peace of mind in an emergency

Vital information can provide peace of mind in an emergency

August 06, 2009|By JANET HEIM

Teresa Spruill asks some tough questions, but she's got a good reason. She's trying to convince people of the importance of preparing a critical life inventory, a move she says can result in peace of mind for those who take her advice.

Spruill, owner of Spruill Money Management and Organization Services, gave a lunchtime presentation Thursday at Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown to about 20 people.

She said her presentation was prompted by the fact thet September is designated National Preparedness Month by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Throughout September and October, Spruill will make presentations at the senior nutrition sites in Washington County.

The lessons of those devastated by Hurricane Katrina proved the importance of compiling important information, not only for medical and financial purposes, but also for starting over.


Spruill said in areas where hurricanes and tornadoes are the norm, it's suggested that a copy of vital information be stored 50 miles away. Fortunately, she said Washington County residents don't have to worry about extreme weather as much as others.

Spruill, who lives near Smithsburg, calls it a Critical Life Inventory, whether it's information kept in a loose leaf binder, a fireproof box, collected on the computer and burned to a disc, or some other method of storage.

The important thing is that it is updated at least once a year and that family members know where it is and how to access it.

She said people should be able to gather critical information in 30 minutes or less.

Often, when a spouse dies, the surviving spouse or family members are left to deal with a tangle of paperwork, work that can be made easier if important information is readily at hand.

Spruill, who served in the U.S. Navy and has a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Campbell University in North Carolina, recommends the following categories for information:

o List of family members -- include names, dates and places of birth; driver's license numbers; Social Security numbers; organ/body donor wishes; parents' names, including mother's maiden name; military and work history; home and cell phone numbers and e-mail, along with passwords.

o Household information -- name of landlord, trusted neighbor or out-of-state emergency contact; names and addresses of service providers (house cleaner, handyman, etc.); electronic access codes; off-site storage, etc.

o Medical information -- patient's name; physician's name, specialty, address and phone number; pharmacy name, location and phone number, etc.

o Legal matters -- attorney's name and contact information; location of wills, legal and trust documents; accountant or tax preparer's name and contact information

o Insurance records -- automobile, health, life, disability, long-term care, dental, vision, homeowners/renters, other policies (who, where, agent's name, when premium is paid and how)

o List of valuable items that might be in the home or stored elsewhere

o Financial data -- income and source; accountant contact information; financial adviser contact information; banks with name, address and phone number; automatic deposits/debits; location of safe deposit box and access information; personal safe location and combination; pension account information; retirement account information; mutual funds/savings bonds/real estate information; outstanding debts/loans; asset inventory.

o Information about funeral/memorial service arrangements; how personal property is to be distributed; personal wishes; list of who should be notified when you die

o Important papers to store in fireproof safe or safe deposit box -- loan papers; mortgage documents; deeds; title insurance papers; vehicle titles; military discharge papers; birth certificates; marriage licenses; divorce decrees; death certificates; custody agreements; contracts; wills; passports; stock and bond certificates; any document that would be difficult to replace.

More information can be obtained by calling Spruill at 240-818-1830 or by e-mailing her at

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