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Organizing Important Documents

posted Nov 16, 2010, 7:55 PM by Kristin Mastromarino Vander Wiede
Having a safety deposit box is a great way to ensure that your important documents are safe from harm.  I often recommend that my clients either place important documents in a fire proof safe or a safety deposit box to prevent loss due to fire or theft.  Creating an inventory, as you suggest, is a great way for you to remember how to access them.

The first step in sorting out what should and should not go into a safety deposit box is to assess what paperwork you have in the house.  I often write of the Homefile product, which is a pre-labeled home filing system.  I strongly advocate its use in homes to sort out what legal paperwork you should be saving for tax and personal purposes.  The files come with a book with templates to fill out which include listing family social security numbers, important credit card numbers and other personal information.  It is a great worksheet for inventorying all important numbers to remember and paperwork.  You can purchase Homefiles for $24.95 at the Organized Lifestyle store in Guilford (

Once you have sorted through your paper and placed it into a filing system at home it is easier to determine where all of you important documents are.  Here is a list of typical items that people will place in a safety deposit box.  I recommend keeping a copy of these items in your filing system for quick access to information contained on the documents.  Only take the originals out of the safety deposit box when they are needed.

 Vital Records

ð       Birth Certificates

ð       Death Certificates

ð       Marriage Certificates

Legal Documents/Agreements

ð       Last Will and Testament

ð       Divorce Decrees

ð       Adoption Papers

ð       Abstracts/Agreements/Deeds and Property Titles

ð       Mortgages

ð       Car Titles

ð       Passports

 Other Documents

ð       Life Insurance Policies

ð       Income Tax Records

ð       Bank Statements/Cancelled Checks, etc.

ð       Service Records/Military/Other

ð       SSN Records

ð       Naturalization Records

Miscellaneous Papers

ð       Letters/Papers/School Info/Licenses

ð       Receipts & other Misc. papers


ð       Photos/Negatives/Videos

ð       Cassettes/Diskettes/CDs


ð       Tangible objects (such as jewelry, collectibles etc.)


This basic list should be helpful in deciding what could go in safety deposit box.  Keep a copy of it in your files or on your computer to easily access the information when you need to find a document.

Kristin Mastromarino is a professional organizer at Livable Solutions, LLC (, owner of The Organized Lifestyle retail store ( and is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO).  You can email her your questions at