You’ll want to save important papers in a safe-deposit box at a bank or in a small, fireproof home safe. Here’s what to keep in it:
A household inventory: This list will help you prove what you owned if your house burns down. It’s also helpful to take photos of expensive items or to make a video inventory. Save receipts on expensive items.
Personal records: Save birth and marriage certificates, all documents relating to separation and divorce, military records, citizenship or adoption papers, death certificates, original trust agreements, prenuptial agreements, records of money owed you, diplomas, licenses, permits, deeds, contracts, property surveys, and titles.
Wills: Put the original in a safe-deposit box only if your state does not seal the box at death. (The bank can tell you your state’s laws.) Otherwise, give the will to your lawyer, and a copy to the will’s executor.
Life-insurance policies: Again, only save these in a safe-deposit box if your state does not seal the box at death. Otherwise, keep them at home.
Records that prove the value of home improvements: Save contractor’s bills and canceled checks. Every dime spent improving your property reduces taxable gain when you sell, so these records can save you a lot of money.
If you can’t remember your bank card’s personal identification number (PIN), disguise it as part of a phone number in your address book, alongside a fictitious name.