Organizing Secrets: Lifetime Documents


During the May Day 2010 Nashville flood, this was the view out our master bedroom window.

A few weeks earlier, I found myself dashing about the house making preparations for a quick dive into the under-the-stairs pantry, our hiding place for tornadoes. We had torrential rains and several severe storm threats which had me pumping the pantry full of our most precious treasures and our important papers.

Our house was spared from both flood and twister, but the exercise made me feel pretty good about how quickly I was able to get my hands on our lifetime documents, photo backups, and other treasures.

Whether you use a safe deposit box, a safe in your own home, or a portable file box, here are some basics you need to include in your safe place for paperwork. Please note this is just a starter list. (For a more complete list, click here.)

  • Birth and death certificates

  • Marriage certificates or divorce degrees

  • Social Security records

  • Adoption papers

  • Citizenship papers

  • Copyrights and patents

  • Wills

  • Passports

  • Power of Attorney

If these papers are scattered in different places, the chances are greater that these important records can be lost in a crisis or natural disaster. Keep them together in your choice of safe places. If you keep them at home, you may want to use a portable accordion file which can easily be grabbed and taken to higher ground when the flood waters are rising!

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