Keeping Important Documents Safe and Secure
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Which Documents are Important?
When it comes to being prepared for emergencies and natural disasters, it is necessary to make sure your important documents are organized, accessible, and safe. There are many documents that are not convenient to replace, hence qualifying them as important. Missing documents can make it harder to rebuild after disaster strikes. That’s why it is a good idea to keep them safe and secure. Keeping important documents safe and secure doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Unsure on which documents qualify as important? Refer to the list below of documents that should be kept safe and secure.
- Home, flood, renter’s, medical, and life insurance policies
- Deeds and titles to your home, land, and vehicles
- Birth, death, adoption, and marriage certificates
- Social security information, driver’s license, and passports
- Military Records
- Citizenship papers
- Bank records, stocks, bonds, and investment statements
- Credit and debit cards, checkbook, savings statement
- Mortgage and loan information
- Wills, durable power of attorney, healthcare directives
- Medical and immunization records, prescription numbers
- Employee-benefits documents
- Income tax returns (only the first two pages are needed)
- Keys to safe deposit box and extra set of keys for house and vehicles
- Combination to safe
- USB and hardrive with backed up computer files
- Negatives of irreplaceable personal photos (scan and save them on USB, hard drive, or backup server
- List of debt obligations, due dates, and contact information
- Home inventory
- Employment contracts, business agreements
Invest In A Fire Safe
A good fire safe will survive a lot of damage. Invest in a quality one for any documents you want to keep at home. You can get a small safe, like the one below from Amazon, that can be stashed away in a closet or cabinet. Make sure both you and your spouse know where the safe is kept and has the combination and/or a key to open it.
Rent A Bank Safe Deposit Box
Whether it’s the original document or a notarized copy, storing them in your bank’s safe deposit box is an inexpensive option for keeping your important documents safe and secure. Rent for a bank safe deposit box will typically cost around $15 to $25 per year; a small price to pay for giving you peace of mind. You can also keep irreplaceable photos, jewelry, and other sentimental items you don’t want to lose to theft or a home emergency, in there as well.
Make Physical Copies
It’s amazing how much easier it is to get a replacement passport or birth certificate if you have a copy of the original. That’s why it’s helpful to make paper copies of your important documents and keep them in a secure offsite location (like your bank’s safe deposit box). Keeping them at a trusted family member’s or friend’s home is also an option. Make sure the copies are stored safely to avoid issues such as identity theft.
Make Digital Copies And Store Them Online
Last but not least, go ahead and scan the documents or take pictures of them with your phone and store them on a secure online server. There are many cloud storage services that offer free space such as DropBox (2GB), Google Drive (15GB), AmazonDrive (5GB), and OneDrive (5GB) that make it easy for you to store digital copies of your important documents. Since your document scans are living in the cloud, you can easily access them from anywhere with your phone, laptop, tablet, or a borrowed computer. This also makes it easy to email them to insurance agents or government officials to get replacement documents made.
Spend a little time this week to sort through your most important documents and get your paperwork in order. It won’t take you long to scan them, take pictures of them, and/or make photocopies. The little work you’re doing now to be prepared could potentially save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Make it a point to revisit your documents every 6 months to make sure everything is up to date and in order. Once the original setup is done, it will be much easier to keep up with it. You’ll likely only need to change out one or two document copies a year.
If you enjoyed this post, please check out my post on 7 Steps to a Life-Saving Family Emergency Plan.
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Just another loonie off the path, :o)