What should you keep in a fireproof safe?

I’ve been wanting to get a fireproof safe for years now, and managed to finally do so about a month ago. Then I was faced with the question: “What should you put in a fireproof safe?”

I put obvious items in, automotive titles, diploma, birth certificates, some court documents, external hard drive backup of all digital files. But I wanted to have an idea of anything else I should keep in there. Here’s what I found:

  • Papers or records that prove ownership (such as real estate deeds, automobile titles and stock and bond certificates)
  • Birth, marriage and death certificates
  • Legal papers (such as divorce and property settlement papers)
  • Contracts
  • Household inventory
  • Wills
  • Advance Directives such as Living Wills or Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care
  • Anything else that would be expensive or difficult to replace.

Some other notations I found:


In general, bank account registers, canceled checks, transcripts, medical histories, employment records, tax returns and insurance policies do not need to be kept in a safe deposit box or fireproof home storage.

Some basic records should be carried with you at all times. Your wallet, billfold or purse is a small record system. Keep identification with you, including your driver’s license, name of person to notify in case of an emergency, credit cards, social security card and organization membership cards.

Health, accident and auto insurance information, and information on allergies, health problems and blood type should also be carried with you.

Thoughts

I haven’t done a household inventory yet, but it’s on my list of things to do. I may be able to do this with my digital camera as well, since it takes video. I can burn that on a disk and keep it in the safe, as well as a printed inventory.

I will mention that I created a database of my library already and keep it in digital format, should I ever need to replace all of my books. Movies is another story, but will be another task at some point. I also intend to keep some of my major software (Win XP especially) in the safe.

I’ve also been working on creating digital backups of all of our old pictures (this is a pain in the ass though, let me tell you), so that should I ever need to have them reprinted, I can (these are kept on the external hard drive as well).

I have $30k worth of renters insurance on our place here, which has an additional $3k coverage for my computer. I’m starting to wonder if $30k is enough, because I have no way to place a value on our belongings. We don’t really have many items that are worth much money. All of our furniture is hand-me-downs, -all- of it was free, and I’d be fine with replacing with other free stuff later. We have tons of antique oil lamps, but they are more for the memories than anything.

Next is finding out how long I need to keep certain papers. I’ve done a lot of research on this already, it’s a matter of posting it.

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