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4 Simple Ways to Organize Important Documents

by | Apr 27, 2023 | Organization, Life and Home

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How To Organize Life’s Most Important Documents

A few years ago my husband and I decided it was finally time to organize our most important documents. Getting the documents organized does not have to be an overwhelming task once you have all of them together in one place. The hard part is estate planning and finding all of the information you or your loved ones may need.

You can follow the steps we took to organize important documents to get your papers in order.

organize important documents
4 Simple Ways to Organize Important Documents 22

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Step #1 to Organize Important Documents: Find them all!

Head over to our Checklist of Life’s Most Important Documents to get a complete list of everything you may need to find before you get started. We have this list available as a FREE pdf printable in our Surviving the Next Phase: 10 Resources for Financing, Organizing, and Parenting in the Next Phase ebook on our Resources page.

Step #2 to Organize Important Documents: Choose a Method

There are several ways to organize important documents. Not every document needs to be in the same organizational system. Some things can be in a binder while others can be in file folders.

Methods to organize important documents:

  • Binder
  • Plastic bin with file folders
  • Home filing cabinet
  • Document safe
  • On a computer and/or a flash drive

You will also need to consider where you will store your binder or files once they are organized. They need to be kept in a place that will survive a fire or other destructive event. An insurance adjuster friend explained to me that most of the damage caused in a fire is actually from the water used to fight the fire. So, consider not only fire, but also water, whether from a weather event or a firefighter’s hose.

Where to store important documents:

  • In home safe
  • Safe deposit box at the bank (although you will need a BIG one and need to make sure your relatives can access it)
  • At the home of your estate executor
  • At your attorney’s office

My husband have our documents at our home in a fire proof safe. Our estate executor and our attorney both have copies of our wills and estate documents.

Step #3 to Organize Important Documents: Get Started

Here are some supplies to consider if you want to make a binder:

  • 3 -Inch Binder -when you are finished, you will need this bigger size!
  • Page Protectors -this will protect your copies and originals from handling.
  • Dividers -one for each section, and you might want to sub-divide some sections
  • Binder Pouch -this will hold small items like a pen and pencil, gift cards, safety deposit key, flash drive, etc
  • Get your printable of Life’s Most Important Documents in the 10 Resources for Surviving the Next Phase
  • Use the Family Records Notebook pages to create your binder.

Or you can scan all your life’s most important documents into a Flash Drive. You can do this on your phone or into your laptop. If they are synced, then all the better. Just be sure that you are always locking your screen and that the document is password protected!

We sometimes think if we can’t make it Pinterest pretty, we don’t even want to do the project. Your organizational system does not have to be pretty!!! The most important thing in getting your documents organized is to organize your documents and have them in a safe place where they can be accessed if needed.

Green estate planning portfolio binder
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important documents in safe 1
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Our Estate Planning binder. It is pretty because the attorney made it. There is a flash drive inside the notebook with all of the information as well.

The files my husband created to organize important documents like car titles and other records. They are stored in a fire proof safe. The file folders are labeled in his handwriting. Your folders do not have to be pretty to work!

Steps #4 to Organize Important Documents: Use Resources to Help You

Be sure to let your family know WHERE your documents are. We have an Important Records Spreadsheet you can use to list your documents and where they are located. It is a Google Sheet that can be shared with your loved ones. They will always have the most up-to-date information. We also have a Family Records Notebook if you prefer to make a notebook.

Here are four possible complete Organizing Important Documents Resources to help you get the job done.:

Computer, tablet, and phone with important records spreadsheet
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End of Life Planner with sample pages
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The Nokbox -(NOK=next of kin) Their motto is “Don’t add a headache to their heartache!” The Nokbox is a complete system that helps you organize all of your accounts, possessions, social media presence, communities, kids, pets, personal history, and estate plans (even if you don’t have estate plans yet!). The Nokbox covers every aspect of your life (even down to the organization of your keys) and also helps your NOK manage your estate when you are gone with checklists and tips.  It will save priceless hours for both you and your NOK.

Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won’t Have To 

This book is a complete workbook for putting together all of your paperwork, important documents, and final wishes. It even includes downloadable pdf forms and information about powers of attorney, funeral planning, trusts, executors, and more.

Post Related to How to Organize Important Documents

What Are Life’s Most Important Documents And How To Organize Them

7 Things To Do Before You Retire

Checklist of More than 40 of Life’s Most Important Documents

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Be sure to see all of the Next Phase Parenting Resources on our Resources Page and subscribe to our Next Phase Parenting newsletter below for a weekly dose of love from us about surviving and thriving in your almost or already empty nest. Visit our Facebook page, and follow us on Pinterest and Instagram where we share lots of helpful info for parents with teens, young adults, our aging parents, and other issues that we experience in the sandwich generation ! Thank you so much!❤️

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