Your home is filled with valuable things, but perhaps nothing is as valuable as the documents that pertain to your identity and financial capabilities. While protecting your home against burglars is important, you should also think about putting your personal documents in a safe and secure location such as a bank’s safety deposit box so they that they will not be in the wrong hands. It is also advisable that you check some data archiving solutions to create digital copies of the documents. These digital copies can help reacquire and prove that the documents belong to you in case they have gotten lost or been stolen and used for dubious transactions. These are the five important documents that you should always store in a safe and secure location:
Annual Tax Returns
You should keep your annual tax returns with you forever. These documents show how much you earn in the previous year and how you owe the government or the government owes you in case of a surplus of taxes paid. It also signifies that you’re a good law-abiding citizen who follows the tax rules and pays the dues. You can toss the supporting documents away after three years because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) only have three years to perform an audit on any taxpayer. After the period has lapsed, you can throw away the supporting documents and just keep the tax returns.
When you’re at home, make sure that your passport is locked up. When on vacation, make a photocopy of your passport and always bring it with you. In case your passport gets stolen while you’re outside the country, you can go to the consulate or embassy and have them fix the issue using the photocopy of the original passport. Also, when traveling, store your passport in a safe place—most hotels have a safety security box in their rooms.
If you have properties and money that you have to divide among your heirs, you have to keep your will safe. It has to remain a secret, especially to your beneficiaries. You don’t want to be influenced by their opinions and cajoled into changing the terms of the will. Make sure that only your lawyer and trusted executor will have an idea what the will contains. Tell your lawyer to give a copy of the will only to your beneficiaries once you have passed away.
While you can always ask the statistics office for a copy of your birth certificate, it is still important to keep this document safe. If you have a partner and children, keep all your birth certificates in one folder. You can store them in a safety deposit box, or you can keep them in a filing cabinet in your home office. Make sure that you know where you have stored these documents. These are required by most government agencies if you’re applying for a driver’s license, for instance.
Social Security Cards
You should never share your Social Security number with anyone. It is only for you to know. In fact, if a government agency or financial institution asks for your complete Social Security number, be wary that it can be a scam. They are only allowed to ask for the last four digits of your Social Security number. Keep your Social Security cards in a safe place. Memorize your number so that you don’t have to carry the card with you.
Remember that if one of these documents fall in the wrong hands, your identity can be stolen. You’ll be subjected to legal woes you know nothing about. Although you can fix these things with a simple document such as an affidavit of loss, do you want to go through all that trouble?