The fires in California
reminded me how important it is to keep copies of all key documents
together, so if you need to get out in a hurry, you can quickly locate and grab
them. They also reminded me of a warning I recently received from the Federal
Citizen Information Center (FCIC).
Yet Another Scam
It seems that there’s a
nationwide scam underway, trying to get people to buy certified copies of their
deeds. The letters cite the FCIC’s useful article, “Managing Household Records,” as a
reason for buying a certified deed. The FCIC wants everyone
to know there’s no need to use a private company to obtain a copy of a deed. You
can easily get one from your local Register of Deeds for free or at a low cost.
Where to Keep What
Ideally, your original deed is best kept in a safe deposit box, along with the
following: birth, marriage, and death certificates, car titles, passports,
mortgage and other loan agreements, insurance policies, a list of credit card
numbers, assorted passwords, codes, and account information, and Social Security cards.
The originals of
health-related documents, such as advance directives, health care proxies, and
burial wishes, don’t belong in a safe deposit box. The people you put in charge
might need the documents before they can get access to the box. Experts
recommend that the person who will be carrying out your wishes should
have the originals, and copies should be in your doctor’s files as well as
given to family and close friends, if you’d like.
As for wills and financial powers of
attorney, they don’t belong in a safe deposit box, either. My attorney has the
original of my will, and my partner, Marc, the person I’ve chosen to be in
charge if I can’t sign for things, has the original of my power of attorney – as
well as all those health papers — buried somewhere in the chaos that is known
as our new home. Ditto for his important papers.
Marc and I can’t really use our
move as an excuse. Our records were just as chaotic before we moved. I am going
to take the fires in California and this blog as a challenge: To get our important
papers where they should be! Want to do likewise?
Looks like a good place to
start is by reading Nolo.com’s "Keeping Track of Secured Places and Passwords," which will help us focus on the
records we ought to organize. Hope you’ll join me!
Castleman – Co-author of "Invest in Yourself: Six Secrets to a Rich
Life" and founder of Good Advice
Press. Nancy has spent the last 23 years teaching people how to get out of
debt, save money, and live better on less. She writes on all these subjects for