Most Important Documents to Keep in Your Home Safe
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:
- First and foremost, place your will and living will in the safe.
- Add your marriage certificate, birth certificates, and adoption papers
- Citizenship and passport papers
- Divorce decrees and Death certificates
- Deeds to your home and properties.
- Titles to your cars and trucks
- Stock certificates and Bonds
- Household inventory list
- Important contracts
- 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.
© 2012 Loraine Brummer