Being prepared for the unexpected means having essential documents (and copies of them) in order and easy to find. Some people call these their Vital Documents. Whatever you call them they are really important! I recently learned that 98% of all South Carolina residents have no will! If that’s your situation and you don’t know where to start, let me know and I can guide you in the right direction!
Absolutely Essential Documents-The Short List
- Your Will (and your spouses)- other estate planning and advance directive documents
- Birth, Marriage and Divorce documents
- Photo ID-Passport, Drivers License or other government issued ID
- Social Security information-your card with number
- Deeds and Titles to property and other major valuables you own and relevant tax documents
- Financial Accounts-a list with the institution, account name, number and contact info.
- Insurance Documents-Life and Property, a list with the institutions, account and contact info
- Investment and Retirement accounts-a list with the institutions, account and contact info as well as benificiary’s named
- Emergency Contact list
The Documents above should be very easy to grab if you need to take them with you. They should also be in a safe place. Some people use an actual safe or a fireproof/waterproof safe box (this is what I use). Additionally, keep copies of these in a secondary safe location (family member, safe deposit box etc). Some people might feel confortable keeping backup copies digitally, others may not feel so safe with this. Each of us has to make that call ourselves but if you can scan or created digital documents you will have a digital record you can make multiple copies of.
Secondary Important Documents are additional items you might want to keep close by.
- Other Financial Documents-Copies of your cards front and back, a blank check, all to be kept in a safe, locked location.
- Home Security info-alarm system identity access and contact information
- Home Inventory-List and photo’s of valuable contents of your home and any storage (see another full post about this)
- Medical and Dental records-release forms, Doctor and Hospital information
- Other relevant information (immigration, medicare/medicaid, diploma’s, employment records)
There are lots of ideas on Pinterest of other documents that might be personally relevant (we all have special circumstances). Look them over and see if there is anything else you need to include. Decide how you want to store these documents. Gather your supplies including all your documents, file folders, markers/labels, a scanner, a safe/box and CD’s (for digital back up’s) and your computer. Schedule a time to get these documents in order so you never have to worry about them again. Having all your essential documents in order will give you great peace of mind, they are just one part of your Emergency Preparedness plan.