Storing Important Documents – What You Should Be Doing Now

Where do you store your important papers and documents? Are they easily accessible in case of an emergency? Do your loved ones know how to get to them if something should happen to you? Here are some tips on what documents you should keep (and where).

Electronic Storage (the cloud)

This is the ideal place to keep copies of original documents listed below as well as electronic copies of items for which you no longer need to maintain paper originals. As a Callahan Financial Planning client, you have your own online vault where you can store electronic copies of all your important papers and retrieve them securely. We recommend that you make and store electronic copies of all your important documents. You can easily upload documents via our secure file upload tool.

Recommended items to store electronically

  • Annual tax returns
  • W-2 forms
  • Medical records
  • Education records
  • Pension plan records
  • Retirement plan records
  • Social Security statements
  • Year-end statements for investments
  • Copies of insurance policies

Your Attorney’s Office

Traditionally, the attorney who drafts your Final Will and Testament will provide storage of the original, signed document. This is important because only the original document (not a copy) is required to be filed with the state upon your death.

Recommended items to store at your attorney’s office

  • Original Final Will and Testament(s)

Fireproof safe in your home

A fireproof safe protects your documents in the case of fire, is easily portable in case of an emergency where you need to leave quickly, and provides easy access to items you might need more regularly, as well as copies of original documents stored elsewhere in more secure locations.

Recommended items to store in your fireproof safe

  • Birth certificates
  • Passports
  • Copy of Will and Final Testament and instructions to locate original
  • Copies of other original documents that you keep in a safety deposit box or with your attorney

Safe Deposit Box

A safe deposit box provides secure, off-site storage for important papers and valuables. This is the ideal place to store items to which you don’t need regular off-hours access.

Recommended items to store in your safe deposit box

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Adoption certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Divorce papers
  • Stock certificates
  • Bond certificates
  • Deeds, mortgages, and bills of sale for real estate
  • Home improvement documentation and receipts
  • Receipts for major purchases – for warranty and insurance purposes
  • Automobile titles
  • Current insurance policies
  • Copy of Will and Final Testament and instructions to locate original
  • Healthcare Directive (living will)
  • Power of Attorney over Healthcare
  • Power of Attorney over Financial Matters
  • Revocable Trust Document(s)
  • Medical and burial instructions
  • Beneficiary¬†directives

Having your important documents organized and stored properly will provide you with peace of mind in case of an emergency and make life easier on your loved ones in case something should happen to you.

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Author: Rebecca A. Barnes, EA

Rebecca is a tax and financial planning practitioner in Omaha, Nebraska with Callahan Financial Planning Company.