On Day 16 of our Let’s Get Prepared! Challenge, we are talking about some of our most important possessions: our important paperwork and documentation. We focus on this for a few reasons:
- What if our home was damaged or destroyed?
- What if we had to leave our home suddenly (or even with some notice) and needed to have important paperwork with us?
First, we’ll talk about “how” and “where” to keep your documents, before we jump into “what”. Many options!
- In the cloud (after scanning documents):
- You can scan your own documents to your own cloud storage (dropbox, box, google drive, etc.)
- Your bank, financial services company or insurance company may offer a service to you.
- Storage backed up from your computer to an off-site service, like Carbonite or Blade
- Check out a free-for-everyone services like FidSafe (from Fidelity Investments, and you don’t need to be a customer)
- Portable electronic storage (after scanning documents):
- Thumb drive, which you back up frequently
- External hard drive
- Keep in mind, these can be compromised during a house fire, along with your original documents
- Keep paper documents safe:
- Use your bank’s safe deposit box (but make sure a key is in your emergency kit that you bring with you in evacuation.)
- use a water tight, legal size container like the Iris Weathertight one in my aStore
- Consider a fireproof, grabbable safe, for some important documents, like the SentrySafe on in my aStore
- Check out the LifeInCase storage and carrying box for a great organized and portable solution: (Use my affiliate code CLEVERGIRL for a 10% off deal, or CLEVERGIRLUSA for 15% off any of the military-themed cases. I receive commission if you take advantage of this deal.)
- Keep paper copies (not originals) somewhere else:
- Place of work
- With a trusted friend or family member in a geographic region separate from yours.
As for the “what”, I’m sharing a broad list of items that are important to save, and you might consider how you’ll store them, for organization. As for an evacuation / Grab-and-Go situation, you’ll want to make sure you have them collected in a secure and safe manner if you’re dealing primarily with hard copies, rather than scanned / electronic versions.
Here is a summary of important documents. You may have other items to add related to your own situation
Key Identification, Unique to Each Individual In Your Home
- Birth Certificate
- Driver’s License
- Health Insurance Card
- Immigration Documents
- Military Discharge Papers
- Military ID
- Social Security Card
- Adoption Papers
- Alimony Documents
- Child Support Documents
- Death Certificate
- Divorce Decree
- Marriage Certificate
Property Changes & Records
- Auto Insurance Policies
- Home Insurance Policies
- House/Land Deeds
- Property Tax Statements
- Photos of property and possessions, for insurance
- Vehicle Titles
Legacy & Estate Planning
- Death Certificate
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Last Will
- Life Insurance Policy
- Living Will
- Trust Documents
Financial Information and Protection
- Account Statements
- Financial Plans and Budgets
- List of Financial Accounts and Insurance Policies
- Pension or Social Security Income information
- Safe Deposit Box Key or Portable Safe Key (store them with your evacuation items)
- Annual Income Tax Returns
Education and Licenses
- Licenses to Practice (critical to your profession)
- Licenses related to weapons
- Academic degrees
Contacts & Instructions
- List of Key People (family, friends, work, neighbor, landlord, physician, attorney, insurance, etc.)
- Computer passwords and account access information
Consider your current document organization, and how ready you are to leave if you had to, or recover if all was lost. Develop your plan for readiness:
Focusing on both the WHAT and the HOW/WHERE:
1) Gather the WHAT items, especially the ones you don’t need with you every day (like your driver’s license or your health insurance card).
2) Consider your HOW/WHERE approach. If you want to scan them, how and when will you do that? If you want to keep them in paper form, do you have the right “grab and go” solution right now? If you don’t, put solving this on your “must do” list.
Join in the conversation over at the Clever Girl Organizing Challenge Facebook Group to learn from and to teach others as we all take on the Let’s Get Prepared! Challenge!
Reminder: Our goal here is to take steps towards improvement. The content in these posts is designed to inspire thinking, not fear.