The Documents You Need In Case of Emergency

The Financial IQ test reminded me that I’m not adequately prepared for death or a disaster. I used to be, but my financial affairs have changed over the last few years. I’m also completely lacking some important documents. For the next two weeks, I will be detailing all the documents you need to be prepared for your death or illness, a house fire, or a natural disaster.

The Documents You Need
This series will cover the following documents or items:
• Will
• Advance Directive
• Insurance Policies
• Account/Password Lists
• Birth, Marriage, Divorce, and Death Certificates
• Titles, Deeds, and High-Value Receipts
• Photo Back-Ups
• Computer Back-Ups
• Financial Back-Ups and Tax Forms
• Disaster Kit
• Red File

Where to Keep Your Documents
Some documents can be safely kept in a bank safe deposit box, but others should be kept somewhere that is easy to access. In addition, you may want to send copies of some to a trusted friend or relative in another state.

At minimum, you’ll need a sturdy metal file box, or a fire-resistant safe. No consumer safe is 100% fireproof, but it should be strong enough to protect your documents in typical house-fire temperatures.

My husband and I are more concerned about earthquake than fire, so we keep our documents in a sturdy metal box. Not only can we grab it in an emergency and go, but we also have our vital documents close at hand when we need them.

We keep a second set of back-ups with my parents. They live 400 miles away, so the odds of a major disaster striking both of us at once are low. If it does, we’ll have much bigger things to worry about, like the fact that California has apparently been obliterated. My parents also keep a set of their documents with us, for the same reason. We keep them in our metal box for added protection.

As I go through each document, I’ll tell where to keep it and how many copies you need. By then end of the two weeks, you should have everything you need to be prepared for an emergency.

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