How to Create an Important Document Stash for your Fireproof Safe
A very important part of being organized is having a stash of your most important documents in order in a fireproof safe. Being able to quickly locate items such as your vehicle titles, birth certificate and will can save you headaches, time and potentially money. Because these documents are often acquired at irregular intervals over the course of a lifetime, they can easily become spread across many areas of your home.
A few years back, I realized the need for my husband and I to have all our important documents in one place. We had recently had wills created and started thinking about what sort of situation our executor might find if he started looking for important documents. Some were in the file cabinet, others in boxes, and some were even stuffed into dresser drawers (would anyone even think to look among your socks for your birth certificate?). I started by making a list of any document that we or someone helping us might need and created the following cover sheet for what eventually became our LEGACY BINDER!
Our Legacy Binder lives in our fireproof safe and has come in handy any time I need to show legal proof of almost anything, whenever we travel or when we buy/sell vehicles. The list is below and also available as a downloadable Document Checklist for FREE so you can create a Legacy Binder for yourself. All you need is a 1 or 1.5″ 3-ring binder with a clear plastic cover (so you can insert the checklist below), some 3-ring binder page protectors and sticky notes. Use the sticky notes (or a permanent marker) to label the page protectors and create a numbered table of contents so you can easily and quickly flip to the page you’re looking for.
Although I have included many items below, you may have other documents that you need to include depending on the needs of your family. What items might you need to include that aren’t listed below?
Fireproof Safe Checklist
(for your Legacy Box)
- Diplomas and/or transcripts
- Titles for vehicles (make sure they are in both spouses’ names or include TOD)
- Insurance Policies (including home, life, etc.) and agent contact info*
- Deed to Home
- Attorney contact info*
- Financial Advisor contact info*
- Copies of ID and Insurance/Bank cards in case of loss
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage License
- Citizenship Documents
- Social Security Cards
- Copy of Wills
- Stock Certificates
- A letter to your executor in case of our death, outlining where everything is
- Copy of Advanced Medical Directives (both for yourself and for anyone else for whom you are designated attorney-in-fact or health care surrogate)
- Copy of Power of Attorney
- A list of your family’s doctors, prescription medications, and contact information for all pharmacies you use
- Important papers related to investments, retirement plans, bank accounts, and associated contact information
- Copy of any will for which you are the named executor
- Recent Pay Stub
- Recent Mortgage Statement
- Any other legal documents pertaining to name change, adoption, military service, business registration, etc.
- Household Inventory (this is a whole other project!)
*(business cards work great for this)
Be sure to keep your legacy binder in a fireproof safe, and keep backup scans of each page in a secure cloud account, like Dropbox. Due to the sensitive nature of many of these documents, you’ll want to make sure they are in a locked box or other secure location. In a future post, I’ll discuss the household inventory mentioned below.