In case of a fire or an immediate evacuation order, could you quickly find all of your important documents? If you’re like most people, your birth certificate, marriage license, insurance papers, mortgage and retirement fund information are in several different places.

Not only could this cause problems for you in an emergency, if they are needed by your family at a difficult time, their search could be difficult and frustrating. According to New York Life Insurance, the best way to store critical documents is to keep them in a fireproof cabinet or safe.
Divide them into categories and mark each one clearly in case your family has to locate them on your behalf. Include:

  • Key contacts: phone numbers and addresses for family, banks, life, home, auto and health insurance providers.
  • Identification documents: birth certificate, adoption papers, a copy of your driver’s license, Social Security card, marriage licenses or civil union certificates.
  • Emergency information: whatever would be needed if you became seriously ill or injured, such as living wills, care proxies, beneficiary forms, IRAs, 401(k)s, last will and testament, burial instructions, cemetery plot and deeds or prepaid cremation documents, military discharge papers, funeral home preferences and information for obituaries.
  • Insurance policies: life insurance policies and documents, health and accident IDcards and claim records, mortgage insurance policies, annuity statements and documents, beneficiary forms and long-term care policies.
  • Financial paperwork: your checks, bank statements, mortgages, auto and other loan information, credit card statements, appraisals of valuable items, rental or lease agreements, investments, real estate deeds or titles of ownership, and last year’s tax returns.

Review the information with those who would need access to it.