In the mean time while we’re waiting for the legendary paper-free office, we’re all accumulating more and more documents with each passing month. Of course, some of these are more important than others and need to be kept safe. But which ones?
Here are some tips to help you decide which documents need to be kept in a safe and which will be ok on a desk, in a drawer, or in a normal file cabinet.
If you can’t replace it, you need to protect it. Any irreplaceable antique documents related to your heritage should be kept somewhere fire and waterproof. If you have family relics like old love letters, charters, or ancient deeds, you’ll want to store them somewhere other than a cardboard box in the basement.
For documents with primarily sentimental value, you don’t need to worry about theft as much as natural disaster. What would happen if your house flooded? If there was a fire? Keep the dangers in mind when you’re choosing how to protect your heirloom papers.
Documents related to your life might technically be replaceable, but it’s a huge nuisance to get copies from the government. Also, losing these can likely allow someone to steal your identity. Again, these can be replaced, but keeping them secure in the first place is far easier!
This category includes things like passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, vaccination records, and social security cards. The safest place for these is of course a safety deposit box at your bank, but you will occasionally need access to them. A fireproof home safe is an excellent alternative to a bank safe deposit box, and it’s much more convenient. Keeping them in a safe also guarantees they will not be misplaced, but will be ready when you need them.
Information regarding current debts, investment contracts, or retirement plans should be kept securely in your house. You never know when you’ll need them, so you want them accessible, but these again could be stolen if kept in the open.
It’s not a bad idea to keep some cash on hand as well. Perhaps a portion of your emergency fund should stay in your safe – although not too much, since an emergency fund works best if you can pretend you don’t have it!
Just In Case: Wills and Insurance Information
If something were to happen to you, your property, your house, or your loved ones, certain documents would need to be readily available. Insurance contracts and policies should be kept somewhere secure, yet accessible. In the event of a crisis, you don’t want to have to search for insurance policy information in order to take advantage of the coverage you’ve been paying for.
Make sure someone besides you knows where your documents are and how to get at them. In the event of your unexpected incapacitation or death, someone else will need to be able to get at your will, so be sure to store it in your safe and let your family know how to get it.
Now you have a better idea of what documents to keep in your home safe. I’m not a lawyer, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but hopefully this gives you some ideas. If you’re wondering what’s the best home safe for your needs, check out my list on the front page.
What else do you keep in your safe?