Do you have all your essential documents in one place? If you don’t, it may be a good idea to start the new year as you mean to go on, with your house in order.
To focus your thoughts — but with the hope that it never happens — think about what you’d need in the event of a disaster like severe weather or a house fire. What would you need to have ready to grab and go?
You might begin by scanning or photographing:
— Birth and marriage certificates
— Wills and powers of attorney
— Driving licences
— Mortgage documents or the deed to your home
Next, think about insurance documents. This would include copies of your insurance policies, with those all-important policy numbers. You should record in your phone contacts useful numbers for your insurers. You should also include — and here’s a bit of homework — some photos of your home and its contents. The photos will jog your memory and provide evidence for a claim if you need to make one.
Medical and pets
What about your important medical records? Do you have prescriptions that you’d need with you? Some pharmacies allow you to keep your prescriptions on file with them, which can be handy.
And what about the pets? Apart from making sure they’re microchipped and they have name tags with contact details on their collars, make sure you have your vet’s information to hand.
Lastly, in this day and age, think about all those passwords you might need to access. I use a secure, online “password vault” to manage mine, so wherever I am, regardless of device, I can access vital sites. I use LastPass, but there are a number of reputable services out there.
You can upload your important documents, now in digital form, to a password-protected online location. When uploading, ensure you use a well encrypted, password-protected service. There are no guarantees against hacks, but a service like Dropbox or Google Drive should suffice.
If you’re not comfortable with that, store your physical documents in a weatherproof folder, inside a small safe of the sort you can buy from a hardware store — one you can easily pick up in the event of an emergency. Keep it in a readily accessible spot. Here’s hoping it will only ever gather dust.
LESLEY GREGORY is an experienced personal finance and consumer journalist. She regular writes for TEBI money and personal finance issues that aren’t directly related to investing.
ALSO BY LESLEY GRGORY
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