Your home is full of valuable things, but one area that tends to get overlooked when it comes to home security is storing important documents.
How many legal and financial documents do you have stashed in different drawers in different locations around your home?
Maybe you have some stashed in a home safe, others in drawers in your office or bedroom, some in the den, and oh yeah – even some boxed away in the attic or basement. But, what happens in an emergency?
Could you quickly get to your documents, and if you were unable, is there anyone else that knows where to look for all those important documents? Probably not. This is the reality for the majority of Americans.
9 Important Documents to Secure
1. Tax Returns: While you should keep a copy of your annual tax returns for good, you can toss supporting documents after 3 years. The IRS only has a three year window to perform an audit on you. So once that time passes, it’s ok to toss supporting documents.
2. Passport: Before you leave on vacation, make a copy of your passport and keep it with you, in case it’s stolen or lost while traveling. At home, be sure to lock the passport up in either a home safe or safety deposit box
3. Will: Likely, your original will is kept with your attorney, but you should have received at least two copies. Keep one copy in a safe deposit box and another in a locked safe at home.
4. Birth Certificate: Every family member has a birth certificate. Make copies to keep in your files at home and keep the originals in a safe deposit box. You may need to access the information on birth certificates, so keeping a copy close by is a good idea.
5. Social Security Cards: Keep your social security card locked up in a safe at home. Don’t carry it around with you in your wallet, as that’s an easy way to have it, and your identity, stolen.
6. Marriage & Divorce Papers: Be sure to keep a copy of your marriage license and or divorce papers in safe place.
7. Proof of Ownership: Whether it be the title to your vehicle, the deed to your home, or escrow on mortgage accounts, be sure to keep these items together and in a safe, dry place.
8. Bank Accounts & Investments: Keep a list of your active bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, and ID information you need to access these accounts on hand and secure.
9. Health & Insurance: Save a copy of your health insurance information together with a list of medical history and medications, and any power of attorney and resuscitation orders. Keeping these together can be invaluable during an emergency.
Keeping them Organized & Safe
Keep two goals in mind when storing important documents: 1) to keep the information close at hand, in case you need to access it and 2) to keep the information safe from theft, fire, or other emergencies.
Safe Deposit Box
Your best bet with storing important documents is a safe deposit box. Most banks or credit unions offer safe deposit boxes.
For documents you keep at home, or copies of documents in your safe deposit box, get a home safe. It should be fireproof and have a secure locking mechanism.
If a Home Safe isn’t an option, be sure to keep your document sin a water-tight container to prevent water damage.
Use Plastic Page Slips
When storing your documents in a safe, you’ll want to protect them from any wear and tear, sunlight, or accidental spills. One way to do this is by using plastic page slips.
Use the shredder
At least once a month, shred your receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, expired credit cards, and utility payments you no longer need. Don’t ever throw out a receipt that came from a transaction you used your credit card with, as your number and/or name is likely on there and criminals can use that to their advantage.
We all know that home is where the heart is. That’s why we’re so passionate about providing comprehensive, customized protection for homes (and everything in them).
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