Hard copy document storage can be a huge challenge for most people, especially if you have limited space inside your home. However, finding a safe way to store your legal documents and personal records safely is critical. Most personal records have to be held on to for the duration of your life. Your social security information, birth certificate and a number of other official information can’t simply be thrown away. And what about important legal documents that you are legally not allowed to shred? Well, luckily there are many different ways to safely store your personal and confidential documentation. The important thing to realize is that you need to protect these documents from moisture and other environmental risks. Here are five legal document and personal record storage tips.
- Digitize everything. Thanks to the capabilities of computers and high-resolution scanners, you can now scan most of your documents. While you still want to store the hard copies of your documents in a safe place, scanning allows you to keep a digital copy as well – just in case. You never know when the worst is going to happen. You can either keep these documents on the local hard drive on your computer or on an external hard drive. Another option is to keep these digital scans in the cloud, so no matter what happens they will always be safe.
- Store documents in a cool dry place. There is a good chance that your basement is murky and humid, which makes it a bad place to store documents. Ideally, you want to reserve a closet in your home for your documents – kind of like your own personal file room. Another great place to store these items is in your attic. Make sure, though, that you put a tarp or blanket over the documents, because you don’t want moisture to affect them.
- Use thick cardboard or plastic to store the documents in. It is also important that the material of the box you store the documents and records in is thick, sturdy and won’t affect the paper inside. Ideally, you want to use plastic, because it will last the longest. You could use metal boxes, but this can often get way too heavy. Plastic boxes are also better because you can see right through them.
- Place your documents in a storage facility when there is no more room at your home. Once there is no room at your home, you may want to think about renting a storage unit. If you are a lawyer, this may be imperative, especially if you have a lot cases. Ideally, you want to find a storage unit that is temperature controlled and that has a lot of security – even closed cases can be delicate. Only when the files reach their expiration date can you call a company, to have the documents shredded and recycled.
- Install a safe in your home for particularly sensitive financial documents. If you have financial documentation that you don’t want to get lost or stolen, you want to keep them in a locked fireproof safe. In the end, you never can be too careful, especially when it comes to financial documents – you don’t want to risk losing money.