Tips on Protecting Important Documents

Having a Survival Plan Can Protect Important Documents In The Event of Natural Disaster or Fire
By Jonathan Goldberg, J.D., CPA
After the recent hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, the need for individuals to have a survival plan for their important papers and documents has become more apparent. While there are not hurricanes in Michigan, other natural disasters such as floods, tornados and fires could potentially destroy important documents if they have not been properly protected.

The impact of losing important documents or not having access to funds because of lost credit cards or ATM cards after a disaster could be devastating. To make sure such important documents are protected, follow these survival plan tips:

  • Locate all important documents which include but are not limited to: Last Will and Testament; Revocable Trust; General Durable Power of Attorney; Medical Directives; Birth Certificates; Social Security Cards; Marriage Certificate and/or Divorce Decree; and Insurance Policies.
  • Store these documents in a fireproof safe at home or in a bank's safe deposit box.
  • Establish an inventory of your personal items of value by videotaping or taking photos of each item. This will assist you when dealing with your insurance company. This inventory should be securely stored.
  • Make copies of files to keep on your computer, as well as copying those files onto a Zip disk or computer CD-Rom as a backup. This disk or CD should be kept in the same storage safe as your important documents.
  • If you know that a natural disaster is eminent, obtain enough cash from your bank to support yourself until the aftermath of the disaster.

By following these simple steps, individuals will not have the added burden of worrying about where and in what condition their important documents are in when they are focusing on rebuilding in the aftermath of a natural disaster or fire.