Safe and Sound: Where to Keep Important Documents

Tips for storing vital items for quick and easy reference later

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Knowledge is power and when you know the best ways to save or store sensitive or personal documents, you have empowered yourself to be free of messy and tedious replacement processes down the road.

Generally, there are three ways to store documents safely, each with their own benefits. And where there are drawbacks with one, usually, the next best possible solution can be found in another option.

First, consider a safety deposit box. This option is useful for things that you may not need immediately but are costly or difficult to replace: property deeds, car titles or U.S. savings bonds.

To double up on security, seal all of these documents in plastic bags or containers. However, cash should not be held in these boxes. The safest possible place for paper money is in a federally-insured deposit account. Though a home safe is somewhat secure, it can be stolen or you can be forced to open the box in the event of a burglary.

Second, your personal documents would do best to be secured in a waterproof evacuation bag at all times. In the event of a fire or flood, you will have everything ready in one place and able to sling it around your shoulder without concern or consuming too much time.

Lastly, new developments in technology will allow you to keep copies of certain valuable items, as well as pictures or video of your home’s contents for insurance purposes, online in a “cloud” storage service. The cloud providers are many and whoever you choose is up to you. You can double up on your security by emailing scanned copies of these documents to yourself, but be sure to keep passwords secure and changed often.

No matter where you choose to keep the documents, you should always inform a trusted friend or family member of your documents’ whereabouts. In the event of an emergency, this person may be the only one who can access them or lead a lawyer to their location.

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