As anyone who has spent hours searching for a passport the night before their anniversary trip to Paris can attest, the time to get organized is well before you have to.
Our lives are chock-full of documents and certificates and passwords and papers. Most of us have a basic idea of where they’re all stashed, but too often we completely forget what we’ve done with them.
Here are some basic tips for organizing your important documents.
Make a List
Start by writing down every document you can think of. Take your time. Ask your friends to help you come up with things you may have overlooked. Do a computer search for “important documents” and jot down all that are pertinent to your life. Create a spreadsheet with all documents listed.
Buy a Home
For your documents, that is. A metal file cabinet, a fire-proof lock box, a safe – something big enough to hold everything in one place. Create folders or label envelopes to hold your papers.
Start your Search
Start collecting all the documents you have listed on your spreadsheet. Check them off on the spreadsheet as you locate them. Put them all together in a big box (not their final resting place).
Scan and Save
Scan everything! That way, even if you lose the hard copy you have all the pertinent information needed for replacement.
Stash your documents in the proper folders or envelopes that you have already created.
Here is a list of some important documents you should be organizing. Remember this is not all-inclusive of the documents that may or may not be a part of your life!
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Copy of your driver’s license
- Copy of automobile registration
- Copy of ID cards
- Power of Attorney
- Insurance policies
- Passwords for online accounts
- Divorce papers
- Safety deposit box information
- Bank account information
- Credit card information and contact numbers
- ATM pin numbers
- Automobile titles
- House deed
- Tax returns
- Social Security card
- Medical records
- Investment records
- An inventory of household goods saved to Allstate’s Digital Locker
- Serial numbers/photos of valuable items
It may sound daunting, but you only have to do a major organization of your documents one time. Once they have a home within your home, it’s easy to keep them all where they belong.
Now that you’re organized, make sure you have the proper insurance coverage for your home and belongings. For more advice, check out Allstate’s tips for homeowners and renters.