Go grab your birth certificate.
Maybe the search will be quick and easy. On the other hand, you might not have a clue where to find it. Your knowledge of this piece of paper’s whereabouts—most likely the first significant thing assigned to your life—is a good litmus test. It tells just how organized you are with the documents that really matter—from that birth certificate to cemetery plot titles and everything in between. Sharing that information can help your loved ones when this information is needed quickly.
Dozens of pieces of personal data float around, in both the physical and digital worlds, for each of us. Old bank statements. Last year’s tax returns. The title for your car. An exercise in living a more organized life is pulling all of it together and having a designated place for things. Keep all your important documents in one secure place so that you can refer back to easily. Then, ultimately, do yourself a favor and share this location with loved ones in case of travel, illness, or your eventual absence.
But where do you start collecting it all—both offline and online? Here’s how.
Papers stacked on your office desk. Files stuffed into cabinets and drawers. Official documents sitting in safety deposit boxes at the local bank. These are pieces of data that only exist in the physical world. Keeping track of the location of each is key to staying organized with your important documents. Begin the adventure of compiling all of this together and placing it into a personal safe or secure firebox.
Websites. Accounts. Passwords. It’s easy to forget your digital data or how to even login once you get there. You might have a password-protected spreadsheet file on your computer’s desktop—but who will know it’s even there if you can’t point them to it? Putting all of your digital info onto a sheet of paper that you keep in a safe place can help bring it out of your machine and into the real world.
Download the PDF of this article to record all of this information for your future reference. Having one easy-to-use source that indicates where to find this important data can make everyone’s lives a lot easier. Be as specific as possible and indicate where to find accounts in addition to account numbers. Attach one statement, where applicable. Print it out. Then secure it.
|Important documents and other items|
|Birth certificates||Safe deposit box information (location)|
|Driver's license numbers||Homeowner's/renter's insurance policy|
|Passports||Disability insurance policies|
|Social media/online accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, Amazon)||Other insurance policies|
|Adoption papers||Mortgage papers|
|Marriage certificate||Real estate deeds|
|Citizenship papers||Power of attorney and medical power of attorney documents|
|Social Security cards||Beneficiary designation documents|
|Military service records||Titles to other properties|
|GI insurance papers||Cemetery plot titles|
|Employee benefit plan information||Business agreements|
|Life insurance policies||Pet health records|
|Health insurance policies||Keys|
|Dental insurance policies||Will and trusts|
|Online medical records||Valuable personal property (artwork, collectibles, jewelry)|
|Automobile insurance policies||Valuable intellectual property (trademarks, patents, copyrights)|
|Recurring bills and payments|
|Mobile phone||Food subscriptions (Blue Apron, Hello Fresh)|
|Water||Health club memberships|
|Cable/internet/phone||Household services (lawn care, home care, etc.)|
|Streaming music service (Netflix, Spotify, Hulu)||Recurring charitable donations|
|Stock certificates||401(k)/IRA account statements|
|Bond certificates||529 account statements|
|Tax records||Student loan account statements|
|Attorney contact||Home equity loan account statements|
|Financial professional contact||Personal loan|
|Accountant contact||Loans documents|
|Insurance agent contact||Cryptocurrencies (e.g., Bitcoin)|
|Investment accounts||Revenue from royalties or intellectual property|
|Checking account statements||Master limited partnerships|
|Credit card accounts||Annuity contract|
|Savings account statements||Mortgage account statements|
Identify the people in your life who you can trust with your information locator. You’ll probably want to share this sheet and the accompanying documents with those family members or close friends who you trust with the task.
Pulling It Together
Need help? Talk with your financial professional for help tracking down this data and to make sure it’s all accessible for your loved ones. Once you’ve dug up the most important documents in your life and found trusted allies to help you, you’ll be all set for the next time someone asks if you can go grab that birth certificate. You’ll know exactly where it is.
This material is provided for educational purposes only.