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Do you know where your important documents are?

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Do you know where your documents are? Organizing your important papers in the event of an emergency

We’ve all seen the stories in the news of tragic and sudden accidents that halt the life of a mother or father in their prime. No-one hopes to go this way, but knowing that loved ones left behind aren’t scrambling to figure out where our current insurance policy, will, financial information and pertinent passwords are located, while going through the grieving process, can give us peace of mind.

Even if your papers are organized and makes sense to you, others may still struggle to find the information they need to handle your affairs, so it’s a good idea to, at the very least, have a list of all of your important household information, including the location of important documents. In any event, having your personal and household information organized is a good habit in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.

The best case scenario would be to have a spreadsheet of all important information, including where to find certain documents, e.g. file, safe, safety deposit box. This spreadsheet would be printed and given to a trusted family member and/or lawyer, with a copy at home in a safe place. If your list includes personal details, SSNs, bank account info, it’s recommended that the listed is stored in a fire and waterproof safe, ideally with a copy on a flash drive and/or secure online back-up service.

Here’s a list to get started:

 Will and Power of Attorney
 Final arrangement wishes
 Life insurance
 Advance Directive
 Monthly bills and contact info.
 All bank and savings accounts
 Retirement accounts
 Loans, including mortgage information and deeds
 Passwords and logins
 Location of vital records, e.g. birth and marriage certificates, etc.
 Valuables
 Other policies, e.g. car, home.
 Off-site storage unit info, if applicable
 Medical information, including doctors, medications, allergies, etc.
 Safety deposit box contents and location

This list is not conclusive. Everyone’s situation will be different, so take the time to think about what other information you should include and schedule some time to get started.

Baltimore Organized Families writer, Jacquie Ross has been writing for The Examiner since 2009. Please check out her other articles related to decluttering, organization and time management. Jacquie, a professional organizer, also shares organizing tips in her Timely Tips e-newsletter. Subscribers are eligible to receive a free email declutter tips course when they sign up for her newsletter.

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