May 26th, 2016 – There’s nothing more frustrating than having to find a document for reference and having to dig through drawers, cabinets, and endless piles without any hope in sight. This is a familiar scenario for many families whose busy schedules allow limited time for organized filing of important personal and household documents. If you’re among this group, then you’re probably well aware of the cost and stress associated with getting replacements for key documents. As government offices lose staffing due to budget cuts, the type of time you need to spend in line waiting for replacement documents, such as marriage certificates, can amount to half a day of work, plus the fees associated with obtaining a certified copy.
If you’ve found yourself staying up late, looking for a copy of a deed, power of attorney, or mortgage statement, then you understand this dilemma at a very personal level, and we know you’re eager to find a better way. If you’re ready to implement a system of record-keeping that truly works, then now is the time for you to create a digital safe deposit box. Here’s why having one can radically change the way to store and track important documents.
Make Time to Organize Your Documents Before the Storm Hits
Procrastination is the worst enemy of organization. Just a few hours of dedicated effort toward organizing your documents can totally change the outcome when a crisis hits. Whether you need a vaccination record to enroll a child in school, or you’re looking for a copy of your insurance documents after you discover severe damage, having a system in place that’s easy to access and sort is key to reducing the stress level associated with handling daily tasks that require specific personal documents or records. We often hear customers describe their digital archives as lifesavers immediately after a peril such as a home fire or flood. Having access to digital copies of the documents that matter most allows them to expedite claims and obtain emergency identification replacements. If the documents that matter the most for you and yours are still in piles without end or beginning, then today is the day to get started, before it’s too late.
Keep Information That Facilitates the Replacement of Expired Documents
Having a digital copy of a hard-to-replace document in your digital safe deposit box is an absolute time saver. But you can do even better by making sure every digital file subject to expiration contains additional information, such as the expiration date, the process for replacement, the issuing agency, and any supporting documents you’re likely to need in order to get a new copy. Also, consider including a calendar reminder to let you know that it’s time to replace it, and instructions about the physical location of the document. For example, your passport folder would include the following files: digital copy of your passport, data card for your passport (including expiration date), location of passport agency, and physical location of the original document.
Include Supporting Documents When Relevant
With tornado season in full swing, we’re reminded of the importance of keeping supporting documentation. If you’ve already taken the time to digitize your homeowner’s insurance policy and a data card for it, then take the time to add supporting documents. Supporting documents for a homeowner’s insurance policy include receipts for expensive items, valuations for jewelry, and photos that prove the condition of assets, such as art or personal libraries. Having a digital file of supporting documents can significantly impact the claims process as far as how quickly you receive your funds, as well as the amount the insurance company will be willing to pay you for damaged personal property.
Cross-Reference Your Records
If you have stored personal documents in your digital safe deposit box that are often used in combination with other documents, then make sure to include cross-references in your archived data card. For example, in your file housing your will, you can include a note on the data card that instructs others about the location of letters of instruction and living wills. While you may not need this information yourself, having details that are clear can expedite how your loved ones access your information should you die or become incapacitated. Cross-referenced records are time-savers for you and for your loved ones.
Make a Monthly Date to Digitize New Documents
Once you’ve started a digital file system, you need to make it a point to periodically upload new documents to make sure your digital archives are complete. When sorting through your mail, keep a box handy to store all hard copies that must be digitalized. Once the document is in digital version, file it to your filing cabinet, and make sure the location of the hard copy is clearly referenced on the data card. If the document doesn’t require that you keep an original, then you can go ahead and shred it as long as you are certain your digital copy is legible, properly stored, and categorized.
Discard Expired Hard and Digital Copies
Just because your digital safe deposit box has a large amount of cloud-based storage, it doesn’t mean that you need to keep digital clutter. Make it a point to audit your documents at least twice a year, discarding what’s no longer relevant, and making sure you’ve already ordered replacements for the documents that have reached an expiration date. Taking a deep dive into your digital files at least twice a year is a good habit that serves a dual purpose. Biannual audits help you recall what you already have in the safe, and help you discard what’s no longer useful, resulting in a clean, easy-to-use, streamlined digital archive of your important personal documents.
If you don’t yet have a digital safe deposit box, then let us show you how Estate Assist is changing the way thousands of people around the world keep track of important information and secure sensitive data such as passwords.
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