Keeping papers safe

We’ve all been advised how to prepare our homes for an earthquake, power outage, or other such emergency. But how do you protect your important financial records?

Create 2 “red files.”

Include copies of the following items:

  • Driver’s license; passport; birth, death and marriage certificates and any adoption papers
  • Debit and credit cards (both the front and back) and a personal check
  • One statement, issued within the past year from each of your band or brokerage accounts
  • Deed to your house, mortgage agreement, and any home-equity loan agreements, and photos of your home.
  • Wills, trust, and power of attorney documents.
  • Key to (and locations of) safe deposit boxes
  • Names and contact information for all executors, trustees, guardians and financial advisors.
  • Insurance policies and agency contact information
  • A list of your user IDs and passwords for all online financial accounts
  • A list of assets and liabilities

Keep one file in a safe place that your could grab and go, and send the other file to a trusted relative or friend or someone who has legal responsibility to act on your behalf, such as a lawyer or an accountant. (Make sure that person lives in another area of the country so they are not experiencing the same event you are.) In an emergency, he or she can send the file back to your or open it and give you the information you need.

Remember to update the red file whenver you make a financial change, such as opening or closing an account, or updating your will.

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