Posted by Sue on Mar 8, 2013
What to do with your V.I.P.s ~ Your Very Important Papers
In honor of tax time, I’ve been running a series on managing paperwork. The amount of paper we receive through snail mail, our kids’ schools and our own work has far outstripped our ability to deal with it. Every one of us needs a personal assistant to handle processing and filing!
In the last two posts I reviewed guidelines for what financial and medical papers to keep and for how long. If you missed any of the series, just scroll down and you’ll find them. Today’s topic is identifying and properly storing your VIPs ~ your Very Important Papers.
Why this obsession with paperwork? Two years ago, the Brooks House, an historic brick building in downtown Brattleboro, burned, destroying much of the top floors’ 59 apartments. Eighteen months ago, homes and businesses were carried away by Irene’s devastating floods. These disasters reminded me how cavalier I can get about my VIPs. If my home burned to the ground, would I still have access to my legal and financial documents? How about my household inventory? If I’m hit with a disaster, do I want the burden of reconstructing my paper trail on top of reconstructing my life?
If you’re like me and haven’t taken the time to identify and properly store your VIP’s, give yourself the gift of Peace of Mind by identifying and properly storing your Very Important Papers.
First let’s identify what a Very Important Paper looks like. Your VIP’s are:
- Legal and Probate papers; including wills, marriage and divorce documents, birth and death certificates and adoption papers.
- Advance Directives; including Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney.
- Any papers or records that prove ownership; such as property titles and deeds, auto titles and stock and bond certificates.
- Household inventories of furniture, jewelry, valuables, including valuable collections and appraisals.
- Any additional papers that would be expensive, difficult or impossible to replace or to which you would need immediate access if a disaster occurred.
Make of copy of each document and file it with your household records. Better yet, scan each document and create back up discs. You can earn extra brownie points by taking a panoramic video of each room of the house. This will help you reconstruct missing pieces and jog your memory if ever it is necessary. The originals, the disc with the scanned copies and copy of the video should live in a safety deposit box at your bank or a fireproof home safe.
Hopefully, you’ll never experience the kind of disaster that would make safe storage necessary. But if you do, you’ll know that you bought yourself the right kind of insurance – Peace of Mind.
Next time ~ Where to put it all: storage solutions for paperwork.