Tips for Keeping Personal Records

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By Susan M. Keenan 

Although many people know where their personal records are stored, they forget to let other family members know where they are. It is important to find a secure location for storing all of your important personal documents. 

Keeping your personal records in a safe and secure location is an essential aspect of personal financial health. It is important to be able to put your hands onto the information that you need at any given point in time. Of course, it is easy to remember what your social security number is, but can you remember where you have it safely tucked away? After all, with identity theft running rampant, people no longer keep their social security card readily accessible in their wallets. The point here is that all individuals should have a central storage location for all of their important paperwork. 

What Personal Records Should Be Kept Together?

While the paperwork that an individual stores together varies from person to person, there are certain types of paperwork that should be safely and securely stored together. Each of the following is an important piece of information that should be kept in a safe, secure place for easy access. 

Birth Certificates: Every family member’s birth certificate should be stored together. You can make photocopies of each of these to use when signing children up for sport teams, competitions, and more. 

Citizenship Papers: For those individuals who have citizenship papers, these documents should be stored along with the other important documents. 

Contact Information: This information should include the names, home addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, and cell phone numbers for adult children, parents, siblings, lawyer, personal physician, and close friends. It may also be a good idea to include the work contact information for each of these individuals. 

Credit Card Information: Compile a list of all of your credit card account numbers including store credit cards along with the emergency contact information. This information is often necessary to have in the event that the theft of the cards or identity theft occurs.

Divorce Decrees: If you have a divorce decree, you should store it in this central location with your other important paperwork. You might need this decree to prove that you are divorced and to separate yourself from a variety of legal actions. 

Living Wills: Anyone with a living will should share the information in it with their family members and personal physician. This document should be stored with your other important papers so that it can be found easily. 

Marriage Certificates: One of the most important documents that a person might have, a marriage certificate should be stored in a readily accessible location. 

Passports: Store your passport with the bulk of your personal documents for safe keeping. Next time you go on a trip outside the country, you’ll know exactly where to locate it. 

Personal Wills: Since a personal will is one of the most important documents that you will have, it is of paramount importance that you let other family members know that you have stored it with your other important documents. Make sure that you keep your will up-to-date so that it reflects your current circumstances and beneficiaries. 

Social Security Cards: The social security cards for each of your family members should be stored in a safe location. Memorize your number so that you have it accessible when needed without having to take it from its secure location. 

Where Should You Keep Personal Records?

Due to the sensitive nature of your personal records, you should store them in a safety deposit box at your bank or a fireproof safe in the home. Both of these storage types are available in a variety of sizes. For convenience, you might want to store them at home in a fireproof safe. However, if space is an issue, you might prefer to store them at the bank in a safety deposit box. 

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