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It’s important to keep the documents you need to establish your identity, property ownership, and financial assets safe … which doesn’t mean in your filing cabinet or stacked in a pile on your desk. While you may have digital copies of IDs and tax forms stored on your computer, you should also have a hard copy, in case the digital version is accidentally deleted or your computer crashes. Certain documents deserve a very safe place — like a fireproof safe — in case of identity theft or fire or a break-in. These are the documents you need to put in there.

Examples of items to hold in a safe or safety deposit box include*:

  • Birth Certificates or Adoption Papers
  • Social Security Cards
  • Copies of ID cards
  • Naturalization Papers
  • Original Marriage Certificate and Divorce Papers, and any legal documents related to your marital status
  • Your Living Will
  • Your Last Will and Testament
  • Power of Attorney Papers that name you on behalf of someone (i.e. an elderly parent)
  • Proof of Eligibility for any Government Benefits or Assistance Programs
  • Social Security Card Professional Appraisals done on your house and on any High-Value Items you own
  • Mortgage Papers (or paid off mortgage papers)


Safes or Safety Deposit Boxes also allow a safe location to store Real Estate Deeds, such as:

  • Titles and Registrations for cars, boats, trailers, tractors, and insurance
  • A list of all your Financial Accounts (including account numbers), Institutions and the User Names and Passwords needed to access information online
  • Real Estate License*
  • Driver’s License (and/or a copy of it)*
  • Insurance: Home, Car, Flood Insurance, etc.*
  • Health Insurance Policy and Card (and/or a copy of it)*


Lastly, a small safe is inexpensive and helps maintain organization and protection of documents.*


*Additional commentary added by Peggy West

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Article by: Annie Mueller (