Ways to Protect Your Most Important Documents
We like to protect things. Children, pets, ourselves, our homes – all important things we try to keep from harm. And records, too. Financial records, family history, and, of course, legal documents all need some tender loving care. In fact, your estate planning document may be the most important documents you need to protect.
Hopefully, you’ve already gathered your legal documents in one place. There may be times you need to quickly find birth certificates, Wills, powers of attorney, and passports. Since you never know when those times may come, it’s best to keep your documents organized and accessible.
Once you have your documents in hand, consider sorting them into folders or large envelopes. Carefully label the folder or envelope.
After you have assembled all your important records, it’s time to think about how to keep them safe.
Putting your documents into zippered plastic bags is one easy way to keep your documents from hazards like flooding, insects, and dust. People living in Arizona, though, may be more likely to suffer damage from wildfires, thunderstorms, flash floods, drought and dust storms.
Where you put your documents, bagged or not, can make a big difference:
- Safe Deposit Box. Even in a safe deposit box, you should place your documents in zippered plastic bags for extra protection. Using a safe deposit box has its downside, though. If the box is rented only in your name, your executor and family members may have a hard time getting to the documents.
- Safe or Lockbox. Another option is to keep the documents in your home in a fireproof and waterproof safe. Make sure that someone else knows how to open the safe.
- Online. Some people scan and save copies of their original documents on digital storage sites. The cost is minimal. As with other storage options, it’s important that your executor or family members know the documents are there and how to access them.
- With Your Attorney. When discussing your estate with your lawyer, ask for advice on storing and protecting your documents.
Some areas of our country are prone to weather-related disasters, including flooding. Plan to protect your documents from the disasters most likely to happen in the area where you live.
Some Thoughts About Privacy
Not everyone wants to share all the details of their estate plans with their family members. You may not want to leave documents lying around where anyone can read them. So, if privacy is important to you, make sure you store your documents where you can control access to them. However, your documents are useless if they are hidden or so well protected no one can find them. Make sure your executor, a trusted family member or friend, or your attorney knows where your documents are being stored.
Don’t Have Estate Planning Docs to Organize and Protect?
Find out more about your estate planning options by watching some of the free videos on our website, keystonelawfirm.com. For more information or to set up an appointment with a qualified Arizona estate planning attorney, give us a call at (480) 209-6942.