It seems that as soon as the hurricane season is over it is here again. The season begins June 1st and runs through November 30. The start of the hurricane season is an ideal reminder to inventory and copy necessary papers beyond just the financial basics. Unfortunately, for many people it takes a disaster to remind them of the importance of having copies of vital documents safely stored somewhere other than their homes. Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and fires just to name a few of the natural disasters, as well as house fires that can hit at anytime, are likely to destroy the documents that you need to return things to the way the were. Now is a good time to gather these materials and get prepared.
Things You Will Need
Safe deposit box, fireproof safe
Make a list of the important documents you will need to copy. These should include financial records such as wills, bank records, credit card information, insurance information, social security cards, birth certificates, deeds to property, and a household inventory including serial numbers and photographs or videos of your possessions. There are a number of resources available to help you decide which documents are the most critical to have available in case of a disaster including the Red Cross and FEMA. I have included their websites in the resource section at the bottom of this article.
Along with the financial documents, items that have sentimental value should be copied and saved along with legal documents. Precious memories can be lost in an instant so cards, letters and photos should also be copied and stored.
To save storage space, documents can be scanned and photos and videos can be stored on electronic media such as CD's or online storage websites. These can be encrypted with a password for privacy.
Get a safe deposit box at a bank or purchase a fireproof and waterproof safe. If you us a safe deposit box, put your documents in a waterproof container in case the bank is also flooded. A copy of your will and funeral wishes should be kept somewhere other than a safe deposit box because if you should die, the boxes are sealed and your family will not have access to it. Your attorney is a good place to store copies of these documents.
Make copying important documents a yearly ritual as things change over the course of time. Having documents stored somewhere other than your home can ease the hassles of rebuilding after a disaster strikes.
Natural disasters, as well as house fires, can hit at anytime and destroy the documents that you need to return things to the way they were. Take the time to gather important documents and secure them in a safe place.
Tips & Warnings
www.redcross.org Red Cross