Protect Your Greatest Assets During a Crisis

Physician's Money Digest, December 2005, Volume 12, Issue 16

The government received a fairshare of abuse for its performancebefore and after the devastatinghurricanes that hit the Gulf region.In most cases, responsibility for disasterpreparation also lies with individuals.Because doctors often are the first tooffer aid in an emergency, they aren'tlikely to seek it for themselves, which iswhy planning is so crucial. A good planwill cover the following elements:

•Temporary shelter. It's importantto establish a temporary housing site ora safe meeting place with everyone inyour family. Just in case you mightdecide to stay behind to help patients,you'll also need to set up a reliablemeans of communication with yourfamily so you'll know that they're safe.

•Work conditions. If your office isdestroyed or otherwise unusable, whatwould your patients and employees do?Decide in advance if you will continuepaying employees during a crisis. Youalso need to keep your patient data safeand secure, such as through an onlinecomputer backup company. In addition,devise a written succession plan toensure the lines of control are clear nomatter what happens.

•Personal finances. Make surethat you have a surplus of cash in thebank. A common rule of thumb is tohave enough savings to last 3 monthswithout a paycheck. Fortunately, sinceyour policy covers short-term needs, youcan consider your homeowners insurancea primary source of cash. If thatmoney runs out, tap into a retirementaccount only as a last resort, as suchwithdrawals are subject to taxation andpenalties. In addition, your spouse orother family member should have accessto and knowledge of all financial recordsand accounts. Keep your most importantrecords, whether personal or professional,in a safe at home or in the office.

•Constant communication. Patientsneed a way of reaching you duringan emergency. Create a reciprocityagreement with another practice,serving as each others emergency relief,so you can care for each otherspatients if necessary. Just make surethat you notify your staff and patientsof the emergency contact. Also, someoneon your staff should be empoweredto make decisions or pay anybills in your absence.

No one can guarantee that anemergency will be manageable, butwith the right preparation, doctors atleast can have the confidence to applytheir skills where they are neededmost—without having to overlyworry about their assets, their practices,and their families.

, is a principal

of Braverman Financial Associates in

Lancaster, Pa. He has more than 20 years of

experience in the industry and is a registered

representative offering securities

through FSC Securities Corporation as well as a registered

broker/dealer. The views are those of Richard M.

Braverman, CFP®, RFC, and should not be construed as

investment advice. Braverman Financial is not affiliated

with FSC Securities Corporation.

Richard M. Braverman, CFP®, RFC