Five Ways to Keep Your Hard Copy Documents Safe
Securing irreplaceable, hard copy documents from severe weather, fire, theft, and misplacement is critical to ensuring their longevity. Important documents include birth, marriage, and death certificates, Social Security cards, wills, bonds, titles, property deeds, tax documents, insurance policies, and other legal paperwork. There are several ways in which to protect such documents.
1) Invest in a Fireproof, Waterproof Home Safe
Choose a safe that is resistant to fire (for at least 30 minutes), water and burglary. Avoid placing your safe in the master bedroom (where burglars typically look first), and instead consider the basement (if your area is not prone to flooding), which will be cooler in the event of a fire, or another closet in your home.
2) Open a Safe Deposit Box
Store crucial documents in a safe deposit box at your bank or credit union. Appropriate documents for safe deposit boxes include birth and death certificates, titles and deeds, and more. However, safe deposit boxes will be sealed in the event of your death, so do not store wills, medical directives, power of attorney documentation, or other paperwork that your loved ones would need to access to follow your wishes. Enclose your documents in waterproof bags to prevent damage.
3) Store Documents in Multiple Locations
Financial advisers recommend storing documents in several locations, including fireproof safes at home, safe deposit boxes, and in the safekeeping of a third party, such as a friend or relative. Maintain duplicate copies of documents in your additional locations. In each location, keep a list of where all of your documents are stored, noting which are originals and which are duplicates.
4) Create a Financial Binder
Keep copies of financial documents in a centralized three-ring binder. Financial documents may include financial statements, credit card statements, bank account information, Social Security statements, and paycheck stubs, among other items relevant to your home or business finances.
5) Create a Household and Informational Inventory Notebook
Detail essential information in one location, such as in leather notebooks made in the USA. A leather notebook can safeguard your material, and provide an inventory of your property and finances. It can be difficult to remember property items should you need to file an insurance claim. In your notebook, list your household and personal property inventory, including valuables, appliances, furniture, and other belongings, as well as receipts and appraisals. Also, include contact information for your personal and professional directory.