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Storing and Easily Locating Your Vital Documents

Do you know where to locate your birth certificate? How about your passport? How about your will, power of attorney, or health care directive? Many of us store these documents in a 'secure' location such as a fire-safe at home or bank safe-deposit box. But what if you need quick access to any of these documents?

In the digital age in which we now live, we have the capability to store our vital documents in electronic fashion and retrieve them online almost instantaneously. I thought back to a couple of years ago when we were on our way back from Dublin and one of our bags with two of our passports was left in the taxi that took us to the Dublin airport. Fortunately we were able to get a hold of the taxi and the moment of panic only lasted about 15 minutes. But, what if the passports were truly lost? While we may not have made that first flight out that morning, there is a chance we still may have made it home that day. We have electronic copies of all of our passports stored in our secure client portal that can be accessed from any place there is an internet connection. While I hope to never find out what one has to go through when one does lose a passport overseas, I'm sure being able to access an electronic copy can only help the situation.

What about locating a health care directive when someone becomes ill or injured suddenly while traveling away from home? While these documents should be in a secure location, keeping an electronic copy 'in the cloud' so you can easily access it from anywhere may be even more important than the passport. I can easily imagine a situation whereby a medical institution asks for this when traveling and having the electronic copy can make life just a little bit easier for those involved- especially if it is an emergency situation.

For those who are clients of Weingarten Associates, we urge you to scan and upload to your secure portal copies of all your vital documents: estate planning documents, passports, driver's license, birth certificates, and anything else that might need to be recalled in an urgent situation. If you are unable to scan some of these documents, use your phone to take a picture and then upload the photo.

If you are not a client of Weingarten Associates you may want to explore some of the online storage companies out there. There are plenty to choose from if you do a simple web search. Do make sure you investigate how secure the file-storage system is of course.

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