Hi, Susan here from Organized 31. I’ve been spending most of this month purging and organizing my entire home. Today I’m getting around tackling the personal documents so I thought I’d share with you how I organize important personal documents for each of my family members. I always take time in January to organize our personal and financial paperwork. It’s a great way to start the new year off organized and makes completing taxes, financial aid applications, passport applications and other critical paperwork throughout the year easier since you’ll easily be able to find the reference papers you need.
I’m a big believer in the “stitch in time saves nine” philosophy. The few minutes I take now to organize our personal papers will save me hours of time and frustration through out the year. These organizing tips should only take you 5 – 10 minutes to do. Remember we are sorting individual personal documents, not other documents like banking or insurance.
Gather Key Documents
Gather all important documents for each family member. You may need to check in several different locations throughout your house to find everything. Take the time to make sure you gather all the documents for each person. You may find that you don’t have some key documents. Make a note of missing documents so that you can look for them and obtain replacements if necessary.
Examples of important documents
- Birth Certificate
- Social Security Card
- Baptismal or Church Certificates
- School Diplomas
- Professional Certification
- Copies of Driver’s License and other Federal or State Identification
- Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will and Medical Directive
- Health Insurance, Immunization and Medical Records
- Contact Information for Your Nearest Relatives, Will Executor and Your Employer
- List of Medication. Prescription Numbers and Pharmacy Contact Information.
- List of Account Passwords
Sort Documents for Each Family Member
Make a separate pile of documents for each family member. This is another opportunity to identify missing documents and add them to your need-to-find-these list.
Keep in Individual Pocket Folders
Have a separate pocket folder to hold important documents for each family member. I prefer pocket folders because they hold all papers securely. The pocket folders are easy to remove for transportation (for routine use or for emergency evacuation). I use washi tape to visually distinguish each folder in addition to labeling each with family member’s names.
Keep All Folders in a Central Location
Select one location to store all personal documents folder. I recommend a fire proof safe or safety deposit box. These folders hold the important personal documents for all your family members, so they should be stored in a safe and secure location. Keep all the folders together so that you can easily locate them for reference. It’s also important to keep all the folders in one location in case you ever have to grab them for an emergency evacuation.
Make Copies and Store in a Separate Safe Location
This folder holds all your important documents. All. Important. Documents. Keeping them all in one place makes it easier to protect them, but also puts them at risk to be lost all together. Make copies of all your documents and keep them in a separate safe location, like a safety deposit box. This may seem excessively cautious, but it’s like having insurance – you hope that you never need it, but if you do, you’re glad you have it.
Do you know where all important personal documents are for each of your family members right now? If you don’t, take 10 minutes and get them organized. You’ll be amazed at how much time and frustration it will save you throughout the rest of the year.
Checkout more organizing ideas from Organized 31.