Imagine a hurricane flooding your home, or a fire burning your walls, and you, scrambling to collect your passport, your Social Security card and your family albums before evacuating your home.
When disaster strikes, you have merely moments to evacuate.
And finding yourself with “no time” to collect these important items is a position you never want to find yourself in.
In this post, we show you which documents you need to protect and the best methods for keeping them secure.
Documents You Want To Keep Safe
Social Security Cards
Child Custody Papers
Pet Ownership Papers / ID Tags
Home & Property
Appraisal Documents for Valuable Items
Estate Planning Paperwork
Health/Dental Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid Cards
Contact Information of Your Doctors
Credit Card, Checking & Savings Account Numbers
Stock & Bond Certificates
IRA or 401(k) Account Numbers
How To Keep These Documents Secure
Make sure you have both physical and digital copies of your vital documents. Make a photocopy of each document and store by one of the methods below. Digital copies can easily be stored on flash drives for safe, compact keeping.
Use A Safe Deposit Box
A safe deposit box is ideal for storing original documents that you don’t need access to in a hurry; as you can only access your safe deposit box when the bank or credit union where it’s located is open.
Good things to put in a safe deposit box include birth certificates, property deeds, car titles, family keepsakes, photographs and digital copies (flash drives).
Use A Home Safe
Store your original documents that you aren’t placing in a safe deposit box – for instance, passports, power of attorneys, your will – in a safe at home that is fireproof, waterproof and has a secure locking mechanism.
Use A Paper Shredder
You can’t prepare for disaster without preparing to keep yourself safe from identity thieves. Therefore, make sure you shred any documents you don’t need. For example, old bank statements, credit card offers, tax documents you no longer need to keep or any paperwork that contains personal information.
Know what you have in your home. Take photos or video (video is good because you can narrate) of your belongings as proof of ownership. This will help if your possessions are lost or damaged and you need to make an insurance claim.
Know what your homeowner’s insurance covers. Additional insurance might be needed for flood or earthquakes.
Consider keeping copies of documents with a trusted relative or friend. Just another means of having a safe location for your important documents.
You know how the saying goes: Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.