Keeping your Important Documents Secure and Accessible

How confident are you that your loved ones could find your current will or power of attorney?

Do you keep your important documents in a secure and fireproof safe?

If you had to quickly evacuate your home, would you know where to quickly grab these important documents, not to mention important keepsakes?

Here are some tips to help you keep all these important files and documents safe and accessible.

Find a digital solution that works for you.

A scanner is a must for storing documents digitally. Alternatively, there are plenty of quality scanning apps available on your smartphone these days, simplifying the process of digitizing your important data and documents. Be sure to use a shredder if the document contains sensitive data (eg. SIN).

Advantages of digital storage over physical files:

  • No space or storage restrictions
  • Easy to organize and share items
  • Quickly access desired data by searching for files by dates or keywords

Finally, you should choose an appropriate service to store and sync your digital files to the cloud, such as Dropbox, Sync, or Google Drive. Several financial planning firms may offer proprietary cloud storage solutions, which provide the added benefit of being able to securely share financial data with their office and your other financial professionals (eg. accountant).

Consider what your executor will need.

Broaden your perspective to consider everything those closest to you will need after you’re gone. Beyond your will, consider things like bank statements, insurance policies and your birth certificate.

Your financial advisor’s office may provide this central point of contact for your loved ones. There are also online services that could serve this purpose (eg. Everplans).

Finally, there will ultimately be some physical documents to not only store but keep track of. Storing these types of documents in a fireproof safe is recommended – including ensuring your executor and/or family knows where it is, how to access, and its contents. Keeping an extra copy with your advisor’s office, or your attorney’s office, is also a good idea.

Be sure to know everything you need to keep.

With regards to items that require physical storage, consider the following at minimum:

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Social Insurance Number card
  • Marriage certificate
  • Signed and notarized Will, Powers of Attorney, and Representation Agreement (Healthcare Directive)

While it is true you can pay to receive a copy of some of these, it is always ideal to not require this extra step for your loved ones.

Create multiple paths to certain data and documents.

Unexpected situations can arise where being creative with your ‘document storage’ could be critical.  For example, making your healthcare directive (Rep Agreement) accessible in multiple ways is recommended – such as your vehicle glove box compartment, or ICE (in case of emergency) contacts in your wallet or smartphone.

There is also the issue of passwords. Your loved ones will want access to everything from email to financial and utility accounts, to media sites and subscriptions. This is where a service like LastPass can be a lifesaver, creating a secure and safe way to store and hand down passwords to loved ones.

Sometimes these planning and technical organization tasks can seem overwhelming. Please reach out to your Financial Advisor at Connect Wealth for a proactive discussion around document preparation and estate planning. Our goal is to help you be prepared and feel secure about planning for your future.

Connect Wealth is an independent financial planning firm that offers holistic advice to clients based on their current goals and future aspirations. We use well-established workflows and cutting edge technology to maximize planning efficiencies while simplifying the process for clients. Learn how you can maximize your financial opportunities at www.connectwealth.ca

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