Most personal papers are important to keep and inconvenient to replace, and should be kept in a safe deposit box or a fireproof safe. Examples of personal papers are:
- Current copy of your will. You may also want your lawyer to retain a copy, in case your loved ones are unable to gain access to your safe deposit box until the executor is identified. Be sure to destroy old copies of your will to ensure that the wrong version is not used to carry out your wishes.
- Trust documents
- Birth certificates for all family members
- Deeds to cemetery plots you own
- Marriage license
- Separation and divorce documents
- Military service records
- Citizenship documents
- Adoption papers
- Union cards
- Social Security cards
- Power of attorney. Be sure to provide a copy of the document and access to the original to the named person, so your wishes will be carried out in the event you are incapacitated.
- Living will. Also keep a copy in your files or provide a copy to the person who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes.
Insurance policies are replaceable by the insurance company, but you should still keep your current version in a safe deposit box or fireproof safe. Keep a copy in your file cabinet in case you need to review the policy or file a claim, along with any correspondence you have had with the insurance company or claims you have filed. Examples of insurance policies include:
- Life, including any policies you have through your employer
- Mortgage life
- Credit life
- Homeowners. Although you will receive a new version every year, it is important to keep old versions for the past three years in your file cabinet in case someone was injured on your property and you have to prove that you had insurance at the time. Along with your homeowner’s insurance policy, you should also keep a list and pictures of your possessions to provide to the insurance company in the event of a fire. An effective way to create a household inventory is to use a video camera so you can make comments about each item, especially those of value. It’s always a good idea to have you valuable items, such as antiques, jewelry or furs, appraised. Remember to record and photograph new items that you purchase.