Most Important Documents to Keep in Your Home Safe

Updated on April 29, 2018
lbrummer profile image

Having important documents in a safe place is especially important when you have a family. Loraine lists these documents, to reference.

Safe-Keeping Your Life Documents

We always hear how important it is to keep your valuables locked up in a fireproof safe----jewelry, stocks, cash and personal documents. And I tend to agree with that, but in this article we're going to talk about which personal documents you'll protect, in a fireproof safe, because you love your family.

My definition of Life Documents is: the "written will" which states who will care for your underage child or children in case both parents die, and the "living will," which all older persons need. It lets your family, and health care providers, know your wishes for medical treatment in case you are unable to make those decisions.

Decisions You Must Make Now

I know, no one wants to talk about a subject like this, but it's important for our beloved children and family.

If you are in your early 20's and married with children, this article is meant for you, as well as everyone older than that. We need to plan for the possibility of unexpected death. Yeh, I agree, that's pretty blunt, but once we get these most important documents in a safe place, we can forget about it again.

What to Put in the Safe...Don't Forget These Items:

  1. First and foremost, place your will and living will in the safe.
  2. Add your marriage certificate, birth certificates, and adoption papers
  3. Citizenship and passport papers
  4. Divorce decrees and Death certificates
  5. Deeds to your home and properties.
  6. Titles to your cars and trucks
  7. Stock certificates and Bonds
  8. Household inventory list
  9. Important contracts
  10. Thumb drive of valued photos and computer back-ups

A Will...As a Gift of Love

The most important document is your will. If you are a young parent, the most important document that every one of you should have is the one that states your wishes in regard to who will take care of your children if you should suddenly die. Should both parents die at the same time, you'll want to be the person who decided who will raise your child or children. And be sure to talk to the person or persons you wish to name, to be sure they are willing to do it.

If you are an older person, you’ll want to choose who will make medical decisions for you.

During an average lifetime, there's a one in four chance of experiencing a household fire large enough to warrant calling the fire department.

-The National Fire Protection Association

What Kind of Safe Do You Need?

You may not need a large safe to protect your Life Documents, but be sure it is fireproof and waterproof. If you are keeping things such as CD's, DVD's or computer hard drives in your safe, it takes a specialized safe to protect them. These could include backups of information on your computer or even thumb drives holding family photos.

If you are including these items in your safe, the safe will need a rating of 125, which means the temperature in the safe will never exceed 125 degrees.

Because fires tend to move through a home, an average room will be afire for an average of about 20 minutes, therefore 30-minute protection is typically all you need for home safes.

Where to Keep the Safe...Location is Important

When placing the safe, consider the weight and don't place it somewhere where it could fall into the basement or an area that would be almost impossible to get to after the fire.

You probably won’t want to place your safe in the master bedroom because that is the room that burglars tend to check first. Your basement would probably be a better place unless your home is located in a flood-prone location.

Price Range...Get the right size for your needs

It's more important to get a good, smaller sized safe that will hold your life documents safely and securely than to buy a larger than needed, but cheaper safe, and then to lose irreplaceable documents. Prices can range from under $100.00 to over $1000.

In this case, bigger is not always better. Buy a safe that is large enough for your needs, with the best fire and waterproof features available.This is not a time to go for the cheapest item; your valuable documents are at risk if there is a fire.

For a 1.2 to 1.3 cubic foot safe, it'll cost about $150 to $300. Larger safes will cost more, as will other features like drawers and shelves.

A simple way to determine how large a safe you might need is to pile up everything you plan to put in it and measure. A fairly common home-safe capacity is 1.2 to 1.3 cubic feet, which should easily accommodate a foot-high stack of 8- by 11-inch papers, for example.

-Consumer Reports

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Loraine Brummer

    Do you have important documents safeguarded? - leave a comment.

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      • TransplantedSoul profile image

        TransplantedSoul 5 years ago

        These safes do not need to be expensive anymore. There are lots of options.

      • JoyfulReviewer profile image

        JoyfulReviewer 6 years ago

        Safely storing your important documents is so very important. Thanks for your helpful tips ... and for that adorable picture in your Intro.

      • craftaproject profile image

        craftaproject 6 years ago

        I have to tell you the photo of that little guy is priceless!! Every time you on the front page I show everyone in my family. His eyes and how he is looking sideways is PERFECT photo!!

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        We often take the will for granted.

      • profile image

        newbwsipl 6 years ago

        nice information on Safe-Keeping Your Life Documents]thanks for sharingdigital marketing companies

      • profile image

        newbwsipl 6 years ago

        nice information on Safe-Keeping Your Life Documents]thanks for sharingdigital marketing companies

      • dwnovacek profile image

        dwnovacek 6 years ago

        Thank you for creating this important lens about something we ALL need to think about. Angel Blessed!

      • girlfriendfactory profile image

        girlfriendfactory 6 years ago

        Terrific! This is such an important thing to do! A couple of years ago, while gearing up to deal with my psycho ex-husband, I saw a lawyer and got all of my papers in order: will, advance directive, medical power of attorney, HIPPA release for the people named in the medical poa, and so on. Each state does it a little differently so it's important to have an attorney handle it. Luckily my family is very small and we all agree on these things, having discussed it many times, but it's best to have it in writing when dealing with the legal system.Something worth mentioning, my attorney specifically told me NOT to keep the originals in my possession but to give them someone not living with me or keep them in a safe deposit box. Even though the attorney has an original signed copy, he mentioned that tampering of legal documents does happen, so I have a copy in my safe along with my important legal documents and the originals reside in another safe (far nicer than my own I must say). A tip I was given to keep any would-be thief from trying to run off with the safe (since mine is literally for legal documents only): keep the key in it. Then they can open it and see it's just papers - no stock certificates or anything of value - and won't be tempted to make off with my court papers and insurance documents.This wonderful reminder is more than worthy of a Flyby Winging and it can be found among the other blessed lenses for today at Have Wings Will Bless! They may call me an aimless wanderer, but not all who wander are aimless and I'm glad my aim was good when I wandered upon this. ~Ren

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        Also, congratulations on front page honors...and blessed!

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        A fire proof safe is an essential. I love the list you made of the important things to put in it and you certainly have covered it all very well and concisely. A 1 in 4 chance of a fire big enough to call the fire department is a lot higher than I would have expected.

      • EdwardCarr profile image

        EdwardCarr 6 years ago

        great lense! very good information.

      • jimbarnes lm profile image

        jimbarnes lm 6 years ago

        great lenses

      • SusanDeppner profile image

        Susan Deppner 6 years ago from Arkansas USA

        Having had a house fire last summer, I can attest to the fact that yes, it can happen to you. this is excellent advice that everyone should heed. We keep many of the documents you name in our safe deposit box, but I know that many, especially the will, should be in a fireproof safe that a relative could access in case of your not being there all of a sudden. Excellent advice, so well needed, and a wonderful gift for those you love!

      • KimGiancaterino profile image

        KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

        I can't stress how important it is to have a safe. Our once trusted housekeeper stole more than $20K worth of jewelry from us last year. Wedding rings, college ring, all my gold bracelets, necklaces, and earrings ... gone and probably melted down by now. I had my jewelry stashed away, but she and her "helper" excelled in their true roles as thieves.

      • TheLittleCardShop profile image

        Malu Couttolenc 6 years ago

        I have my important documents in a safe box and I have let my close family know where they are. You always have to be prepared.

      • lesliesinclair profile image

        lesliesinclair 6 years ago

        Such an important reminder of a critical tool in keeping track of document.

      • SecondHandJoe LM profile image

        SecondHandJoe LM 6 years ago

        I have an old (antique) bank safe that is actually fireproof for 1 hour! I keep all my important papers in there.

      • mantuamom profile image

        mantuamom 6 years ago

        We just finished our process for our will and trust. I agree it is a hard process to go through, but it's extremely important for those with children. Thanks for publishing an important lens on a difficult topic!

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