Have you ever been part of a conversation that starts “If you house caught on fire, what would you grab before running out the door?” It’s a good question! Maybe you think of photos, love letters, or even your wallet. Of course, there is no wrong answer. But when it comes to certain items like legal documents, there is definitely a right way to keep them. At any given moment, homes are vulnerable to both theft and destruction. All it takes is for a tree to fall or for a fire to spark for precious items to be lost.
There are a couple of good options for minimizing your risk:
Safety Deposit Box: This is a box you rent at your bank. Not only are safety deposit boxes well-secured, but their offsite location can also be an asset.
In-Home Safe: These are safes inside the home which provide extra security against theft.
Firesafe Box: These are free-standing boxes which can be purchased at a home/office supply store. Firesafe boxes lock with a key, and provide protection from water and fire. They are an affordable solution to a need for extra security.
Once you’ve selected a method, the next question is which items should you put in your secure location? Since safe boxes are typically limited in size, it is important to prioritize. Some items to consider include:
1. Original documents that are particularly difficult to replace, such as:
- Marriage License
- Divorce Decree
- Birth Certificates
- Baptism Certificates
- Living Will
- Power of Attorney
- Social Security Card
- Homeowner’s Insurance Policy
- Life Insurance Policy
- Savings Bonds
- Irrevocable Trust
- Ownership documents (car/boat/cemetery plots/etc.)
2. Copies of important items you would need to replace if stolen or damaged, including
- Copy of wallet contents (including fronts & backs of each card)
- Copy of driver’s license
3. Small/highly valuable/sentimental possessions which can’t be replaced, such as:
- Lock of child’s hair
- Favorite piece of jewelry
- Letters from a deceased loved one
4. Cash on hand. In the event of a large-scale emergency or power outage, you may not have immediate access to your bank account. It is always a good idea to have some money for groceries and fuel if ATMs were to go down or travel were restricted.
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In today’s digital environment, many options exist for scanning and storing important documents on computers and/or in the cloud. But for those vital “originals” in your space, taking the step to store them safely is well worth the effort.
What items do you keep in a firesafe or safety deposit box?