Use this Important Documents Checklist to make sure you have critical files available in the event of an emergency. In addition to reviewing which documents you might need, I’m going to cover how and where you might store them to not only keep them safe, but also be able to get to them when you need them.
Due to our military family lifestyle, I’ve found myself in several situations where I needed certain files or information that required a lot of time digging through the file cabinet or piles of paperwork on the desk.
After doing this one too many times, I realized it would be far smarter to make copies of all of this information and keep it where I could easily access it when needed. I’d like to save you some time and frustration and share my system with you so you’re prepared BEFORE you endure the same struggle.
Which Important Documents to Include
My file has grown slowly over the years based on the documents that I either found myself frequently referencing or contained essential information that if lost, would be difficult to obtain again.
First, I started with the documents I needed to produce over and over again:
- Birth Certificates
- Driver’s Licenses
- Social Security Cards
- Credit Cards
- Military IDs
- Health Insurance Cards
- Immunization Record
- Pet Vaccination Records
- Power of Attorney
Next I added important documents that outlined our intentions in the event of a tragedy:
- Living Wills
- DNR Forms
Later, I added documents that I rarely used but were important nonetheless. These are items that if I misplaced them, would take some time and effort to replace.
- Marriage License
- Dental Records
- Real Estate Agreements
- Vehicle Titles
- Vehicle Registrations
- Previous Year’s Tax Return
- DD214 (My husband’s military discharge papers once he retired)
Finally, I added a few more items when I decided to make our important documents file as comprehensive as possible:
- Insurance Policies
- Home Inventory
- Family Photographs
Some other documents that would be helpful to include if they pertain to your situation are:
- Adoption Paperwork
- Divorce Decree
- Child Custody Papers
- Stock/Bond Certificates
- Family Genealogy Records
Where to Store Important Documents
I recommend making both digital copies and hard copies so you have backups in case something happens to the original documents or you are unable to access them.
Where to Store Hard Copies
Here are some places you might consider for storing physical copies of your important documents:
- Safety deposit box
- Go Bag
- With a trusted relative, attorney, or friend
Because the information you are storing is personal and provides details that you wouldn’t want others to stumble upon, be very careful about where and how you store your copies.
Where to Store Digital Copies
I like to keep a couple of digital copies available so that I can access information from important documents whenever and wherever I may need them. Here are some places to consider:
- Password-protected folder on your phone
- Secure cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive
- LastPass (it’s not just for storing passwords!)
Again, you don’t want the wrong person to get access to the information stored in your personal documents so be careful about how you store digital copies.
Free Printable Important Documents Checklist
I’ve created a free printable version of the Important Documents Checklist so you can print it and check off each item as you gather them and make copies.
Simply fill in your email below to download the checklist.
This Important Documents Checklist is just one page of my printable 68-page In Case of Emergency Binder. From household emergencies to natural disasters, this binder will make sure you’re ready for anything.
Combined with the printable Household Inventory Workbook, you’ll not only be prepared for any emergency, you’ll be organized and ready for recovery after disaster strikes.
When you buy them together, you save over 30%.