We’ve made it to Month 4 in the Family document Challenge!
I don’t consider myself a hoarder except where it comes to paperwork. (ok and yarn)
When we moved here last year, I must have had at least a dozen boxes of very old letters, bills, schoolwork, and instruction manuals for things I don’t even own anymore.
I have a big filing cabinet, supplemental file bins, and digital file folders. There is such a glut of information that it is difficult to find what I actually need when I do need something.
Working with Relevant Information
I don’t really know what makes me feel the compulsion to hang onto it all. Some of the items, such as letters or settlement documents on a house I owned, I like to keep because they interest me still. Bills and account statements from years ago, and information about appliances that are long passed, I have begun to cull. After we moved in, I worked on reducing the paperwork I was storing.
As the fourth part of the 6 Month Family Document Challenge, I am committed to updating and organizing our records this month. This means making an easy to update and access solution for the information most needed in case of an emergency or disaster. Key documents are our wills and Power of Attorney POA), medical information, pet information, home and auto insurance policies, household inventory, financial accounts, passwords, and emergency contact persons.
The goal is to have this information easy to keep up to date and access quickly when needed. The most logical way would be to make a digital folder. Hard copies can be scanned and saved to it, and it can be stored, shared or accessed on the Cloud or a removable storage device. In case of emergency, this will make finding information so much more efficient than rooting through paper files looking for an up to date copy. Additionally, should the house not be accessible, having information stored off site would be critically important.
Gather. Update. Save.
Ready to tackle this part of the challenge? Start by gathering information to update family records in these areas:
- Medical information. I keep a document I update regularly for my own health issues, but have not added my son and husband’s information. I include my insurance information, medications and dosages, allergies, health conditions and brief history, doctors I see regularly, and emergency contacts. In fact when I go to appointments, I often bring a copy to save time updating records every visit. I plan to create similar documents for the rest of my family.
- Pets. I will scan a copy of the latest vet checkup, rabies shots, and type a brief summary of their history. I will also include a photo of each.
- Insurance (homeowner or renter’s) and household inventory. My husband and I will work on compiling a simple household inventory to include in the digital folder with our homeowners insurance policy documents.
- Financial information, accounts and passwords. If you became incapacitated for a period of time, would someone you trust be able to jump right in and manage your bills or liquidate needed funds?
- Identification documents. Make digital copies by scanning each family member’s Driver’s License, Social Security Card, Passport, Marriage License, Birth Certificate, etc. Some companies will need these sent to them to replace originals or for insurance claims, and having them in your digital file makes it easy to send a copy online.
Make a digital folder on your computer and add each document — whether scanned or typed up, to the folder as you put them together. Save each with an easy to identify name and date. I put a note indicating the date the document was last updated in the document when possible. This way it is easy to locate the more recent information when needed.
Gathering this information gives you peace of mind, and is especially helpful after a move, change in health or family status. It can also help you identify all the old information you no longer need to keep hanging onto. A handy document shredder allows you to safely dispose of those records.
We are halfway through the 6 Month Document Challenge! If you get behind, or haven’t started yet, just keep plugging away at the assignments. It will be worth it in the end. Good luck!
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