Accidents happen. I've known some people whose homes have been completely burned or ruined by natural disasters. Other people I know have suddenly lost the bread-winner or financial leader of the family. These unfortunate incidents although rare, do happen at random. It really is a wise thing to prepare in case such incidents do occur to you or your loved ones.
Having a home fire proof safe and filling it with documents and items that you will want and need if the worst were to happen is a great way to prepare. For your own use, safety, and peace of mind, it is also handy to have these items in one secure place—instead of littered around the house in different drawers and cabinets. I like to know where our important documents are when I need them. So having them in the safe helps with the organization aspect as well!
Home Safes VS Safe Deposit Boxes
Many may wonder why I'm emphasizing a home safe instead of a safe deposit box. Home safes (for personal and important documents) are often better than a safe deposit boxes at a bank for a variety of reasons:
- With home safes you can access important documents at a moment's notice. With safe deposit boxes you are subject to the bank's hours of operation (and if there is a threat or disaster banks do not have to open at all).
- Bank safe deposit box items are not typically insured. The items in your home (including in your home fire proof safe) are, for the most part, insured with your home insurance. If you have questions on this, contact your home insurance agent.
- If you were to die and your original copies of important documents were in a safe deposit box it could take weeks, even months to secure a court order to open the box. With a home safe, your loved ones would have immediate access.
- Banks are also susceptible to natural disasters, robberies, etc. neither homes nor banks are 100% safe.
- A safe deposit box could cost $40-$200+ a year for rent. A home safe costs about that as well and will last for years.
What to put inside:
- Birth Certificates
- Social Security cards
- Home insurance information
- Life Insurance paperwork
- Car insurance paperwork
- Trust documents
- Power of attorney
- Titles and deeds to valuable property (like vehicles, homes, etc.)
- Valuable jewelry that you only access from time to time
- Coins, gold, silver (precious metals)
- Medical details (doctors, prescriptions, diagnosis, etc.)
- A "what if I were to die list" with your bank account numbers, when bills are due, etc. so loved ones (or a spouse that may not know these details) can keep up in case of death or accident.
- Family heirlooms
- Journals that mean a lot
- Business documents
- CD and external hard drives with valuable files (including photographs) on them
- Negatives of photographs you don't want to lose
- Paperwork related to any investments you may have made
- Extra check books you are currently not using
- Marriage or divorce documents
- Military records
- Degrees and training certificates
- Extra keys
- Other valuables
Important- Making copies of these items (or scanning them all and putting it on a flash drive) and storing them with a family member or lawyer you trust will give you an extra level of protection and preparedness.
Bonus 1- Having a list of items in your home and their values (even receipts) will help speed an insurance claim if there ever is one.
Bonus 2- Having someone (maybe a beneficiary or parent) know about the safe and what the safe code is can also help in case of death or accident.
Note- Fireproof safes are not indestructible. You will want to place yours in an area where it will not fall far distances if the floor could burn out from under it (and potentially bust open or become damaged). I recommend putting it on the lowest level of your home. Further, securing your safe to the floor and putting it in an inconspicuous area will help keep your valuables and important documents protected as well. Amazon sells a lot of different highly-rated fire proof safes (you can find them here).