Author Topic: Where do you store important documents?  (Read 823 times)

Memphis Mustache

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Where do you store important documents?
« on: July 17, 2017, 11:24:27 AM »
So, I just wanted to get some thoughts on where everyone keeps their most important documents\records; basically, the kind of stuff that it would be a pain to replace.

Such as:
Birth Certificate
Social Security Card
Passport
Car Title
Deed/Title to house/property

Do you store your most important documents in a fireproof safe at home? In a safe deposit box at your bank? Digitally online or on a hard drive? In a filing cabinet at home?

I am just curious, as this is an area that I haven't really done a good job of dealing with, as I've been keeping everything in a filing cabinet at home. I know that I need to do a better job of protecting the hardest-to-replace documents and I am thinking that I will probably rent a safe deposit box from my bank but I was curious what others are doing.

Gimesalot

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2017, 12:05:37 PM »
As someone that has had to replace most of those documents, they are really not very difficult to replace in most circumstances.  FWIW, my American passport was stolen in China and while it was some hassle, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't that bad at all. 

So we keep our documents in a dresser drawer.  There are photos of them in our dropbox in case we need instant access to them.

sisto

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2017, 12:09:46 PM »
I use a fireproof safe at home
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Sailor Sam

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2017, 12:19:42 PM »
1. Hard copies in a plastic file box at home - birth certificate; passport; SS card; driver's license; Coast Guard licensing credentials, qualifications, and certifications; work qualifications

2. Xeroxed copies of all the above in the Fire & Emergency bag that sits by the front door

3. Xeroxed copies of all the above in Get Home bag that lives in the car

4. Digital scans on thumb drives in various places - home, work, off-site.

I scan documents as they come in, and resync the 3 thumb drives in Jan. Once the system is in place, it's easy to keep it rolling.

madamwitty

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2017, 12:38:11 PM »
I also use a fireproof safe at home for birth certificates, etc. I also scanned everything (including the contents of my wallet, in case it gets lost or stolen) and keep it on an encrypted virtual drive on my laptop (which is backed up to USB in a couple different locations.) If I ever decide to put important documents on the cloud, I will definitely make sure they are encrypted.

Lepetitange3

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2017, 12:55:33 PM »
Sailor Sam has the same system we do plus two forms of cloud backup.  but we are also retired military so our storage standard may be a little crazy for normal people

Memphis Mustache

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2017, 02:00:43 PM »
Thanks for the feedback. I have considered both a fireproof safe at home and a bank safe deposit box and I was leaning towards the bank box, as I assume that the bank is less likely to be robbed\burglarized than my home and I would assume that it would also be less likely to have some type of fire that could cause the contents to burn up.


Sailor Sam

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2017, 02:27:41 PM »
For your documents, are you looking for 'safe' or 'easy access'?

The safe option often comes with a high pain in the ass-itude. Bank boxes have very limited access in the best of times. Introduce an emergency that shuts down that one bank, in that one town, and suddenly you have zero access to the documents you'd really prefer to have on hand as you re-start.

Same story for fire-resistant boxes. They may be water and heat resistant, but it might take the fire-overhaul team a couple days to let you back in. Meanwhile, your ass is right in the wind, and mould is growing all over your documents.

Thanks to my job, I see people suddenly thrown into circumstances they were definitely not expecting. They often have well implemented plans for keeping their documentation (and access to money) safe. Very safe! So safe, the system only had a single point of failure. And sadly, that point of failure just sank to the bottom of the ocean. It often makes them very sad.

You may decide the bank box is the way to go. Only you know what will let you sleep at night. I just thought I'd mention flexibility and redundancy, because those are often forgotten.

Capsu78

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2017, 02:27:56 PM »
I store all of the original documents you mentioned (including our will) in my bank safety box- secure, video monitored, fire suppression and "someplace other" than my house in case a tornado/ fire event visits my house.  I keep hard copy of everything in my home fire safe and a scanned copy of everything on my computer.  ( Easy to access a scan in case I just need the numbers off my passport etc.  As for passports, when my wife was traveling heavy international for work, we kept them home in safe, but now with a job change and no scheduled international, back in the bank box they went.
When I do need to retrieve them because we have an international trip coming up, it is convenient for me to pull the passport at the bank and then walk over to customer service to notify them where we will be using our ATM cards.

Capsu78

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2017, 02:35:52 PM »
Sailor Sams points are well taken.  Here is a deep dive on the topic from someone who had to evacuate from Katrina.  While the info is a bit dated technology wise, the lesson he learned the hard way can easily be extrapolated to todays concerns:

http://theplacewithnoname.com/blogs/klessons/p/0006.html

TheStachery

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2017, 02:43:39 PM »
I use a fireproof safe for the very important physical documents.  All very important docs are scanned and stored in my 1password vault (could synced).  All other docs are scanned and stored on my laptop that is backed up everyday.  The flaw in this is that if there is a fire I need to grab the back up disk, or my laptop since the files are all stored in the same location.

Spork

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2017, 02:55:10 PM »

We use a fireproof safe at home for things like SS cards and passports.

We use a safe deposit box at a bank for home deed, auto titles, wills and misc legal documents.  I have a trusted family member that has signature authority (and a second key) in case an emergency happens and something like an original Medical PoA is needed.  (Family member has copies... but original is in safe deposit box).

I also keep a full backup of all home computers (done once a quarter) on a disk in the safe deposit box.  (I do other backups more regularly that stay inside my house but only off-site once a quarter).
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RWD

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2017, 03:12:01 PM »
We also use a fireproof safe

Christof

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2017, 03:31:14 PM »
When you store documents in a bank safe make sure you understand how to retrieve them in an emergency.

Many years ago I went through the exercise of creating a disaster recovery plan and realized that when my house burns down, so do my safe key and possibly my ID. The ID wasn't a problem as the bank staff knew me, but the missing key would require to drill a hole into a safe. The bank estimated it would take three weeks to get someone into the bank and I obviously would have to replace the safe.

I now have copies of my documents and the safe key in different physical locations.

surfhb

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2017, 05:53:44 PM »
In a drawer next to my bed.   Any emergency or life threating event would outweigh loosing any important documents.     All these are easy to replace anyway.   

I try not to overthink these things.

scottish

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2017, 06:02:46 PM »

We use a fireproof safe at home for things like SS cards and passports.

We use a safe deposit box at a bank for home deed, auto titles, wills and misc legal documents.  I have a trusted family member that has signature authority (and a second key) in case an emergency happens and something like an original Medical PoA is needed.  (Family member has copies... but original is in safe deposit box).

I also keep a full backup of all home computers (done once a quarter) on a disk in the safe deposit box.  (I do other backups more regularly that stay inside my house but only off-site once a quarter).

Is this an external hard drive?   I use flash sticks for this purpose.

Zamboni

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2017, 06:12:46 PM »
My lawyer specifically advised me not to put my will in a difficult to access location like a home safe or bank safety deposit box . . . he also advised against distributing a zillion copies of it to people (just in case I elect to change it later, it is better if old version don't cause disputes after my death.)

So, I have my will in a binder on a bookshelf and I have mentioned to relatives that it is there.

My driving license is attached to my car key, and my passport and global entry ID are with me most of the time in my laptop bag (the license and passport ID's are not usually kept together, though, so hopefully I would only lose one at a time). Birth certificates and other important documents are in a file drawer. I was recently able to get certified copies of my own birth certificate from the hospital where I was born in Hawaii . . . it took awhile to receive them in the mail, but otherwise it wasn't a big deal. If my house burns down, I'll be more upset about losing a few sentimental things that are harder to replace.

Spork

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2017, 06:16:24 PM »

We use a fireproof safe at home for things like SS cards and passports.

We use a safe deposit box at a bank for home deed, auto titles, wills and misc legal documents.  I have a trusted family member that has signature authority (and a second key) in case an emergency happens and something like an original Medical PoA is needed.  (Family member has copies... but original is in safe deposit box).

I also keep a full backup of all home computers (done once a quarter) on a disk in the safe deposit box.  (I do other backups more regularly that stay inside my house but only off-site once a quarter).

Is this an external hard drive?   I use flash sticks for this purpose.

It's a conventional 2TB drive in a USB enclosure.  Plug it in, run script, unplug.
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Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
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frugalmom

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2017, 06:16:41 PM »
I used to have a really good insurance agent.  In addition to suggesting I walk around the house (early days of digital cameras) to take pictures of all our important (read expensive to replace stuff) and keep an accurate inventory.  She had lots of good ideas about storing back ups of documents.

What I ended up doing was taking pictures around the house and scanning the documents.  I then burned these things to CD's.  She actually kept a copy for me.  I kept a copy at the bank in my safety deposit box, and had a further copy "hidden" in a Music CD case in my CD collection.  The thought was the copy at the safety deposit box was the ultimate back up.  My agent had a copy incase my house was a total loss.  The copy in my house was just convince.  The original documents were in the safety deposit box. 

This excluded passport.  That was in the drawer as it was used many times a year.

This reminds me.  I should photograph my house again

Icecreamarsenal

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Re: Where do you store important documents?
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2017, 06:17:33 PM »
In a file cabinet.  3 feet from the fireplace.  I'm going to move the cabinet a couple of feet further away after reading these responses though.