Estate Plan Crisis Mode And Tearing Apart the House

Crisis Mode
Crisis Mode
Crisis mode is different for every family.  Minus the few who handle illness and death with ease, a crisis can cause panic and confusion.  I believe in helping our loved ones with the following process:

  • Create a loud colored binder for every member of the family
  • Place each binder on an accessible shelf
  • Use when needed.

Crisis Mode:  Loud Colored Binder

Estate Binder
Estate Binder
Some of my favorite loud colored binders are yellow, lime green, orange and red.  The idea is simple.

Look for my yellow binder…it is near my bed


My social security card is in my orange binder

In other words, I believe folks need an identifiable spot that keeps our most important documents.

Crisis Mode:  Binder for Every Family Member

In all honesty, I am being picky.  But, as people (young and old), everybody has a different plan.  Even when our plan is the same as our spouse, the plan is still unique to us as a person.

For this reason, I like the idea of maintaining a file for each person.  This might include:


  • Birth Certificate
  • Social Security Card
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Health Care Directive
  • Power of Attorney
  • Will [/one-half-first]


  • Standby Guardian Authorization
  • Beneficiary Forms
  • Trust Documents
  • Veterans Forms
  • Divorce Decree
  • Funeral Directive [/one-half]

Again, everybody’s binder will be different.  The whole idea of having an organized spot for each family member is this: when a crisis hits, nobody wants to drag around documents that do not pertain to our loved one.

Crisis Mode:  Use When Needed

Unfortunately, I am speaking from personal experience.  When something goes wrong or a person is unexpectedly in the hospital, it is difficult to think clearly.  Even worse, a lot of family members fail at finding a specific document without tearing apart a home.

In my experience, this can be avoided by talking and planning.  Thus, I like the idea of having a binder that is accessible when needed and organized accordingly.