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Where is that Social Security Card? Grab the Red File

July 21, 2020

important personal papersHow many times have you had to search for your Social Security card? A birth certificate? A marriage license? Probably not very often. That’s why these important papers are usually tucked away in various files and boxes. Then stored in the usual place in your home… “somewhere.”

But occasionally things come up where you need an important paper. For example, the requirements for a REAL ID driver’s license in New York State. You may need a social security card, birth certificate, proof of residency, and more. This got us thinking about a better place to store personal records.

It’s called a Red Book. A loose-leaf binder that’s either red or has a piece of red paper slipped under the cover. In it you keep your important personal papers. The ones that you don’t ever seem to need…until you need them!

The idea is to place the papers in plastic sleeves. For items such as keys, cash, and the USB, get a zippered sleeve that fits into the binder.

As we’ve suggested, one reason to have a Red File is convenience. But another is a possible disaster in your home. If there is a fire, these papers may be destroyed. And if they are, it takes time and lots of bureaucratic hoop-jumping to replace them.

So, what papers should you keep in your Red File? Here’s a list we’ve come up with. You may think of more.

Personal Records While You’re Alive

  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage License
  • Social Security cards (for the kids, too)
  • Disability Insurance
  • Adoption, foster care and custody papers
  • Passports and visas
  • Tax documents
  • Vehicle registrations and titles
  • Mortgage statements, deeds, bills of sale
  • Home, car, liability insurance policies
  • Medical, dental and immunization records, prescriptions
  • Pay stubs
  • Disability/unemployment records
  • Investment statements
  • Membership cards
  • Military records
  • Work contracts
  • Home contents inventory
  • Copies of credit and debit cards
  • Diplomas
  • USB drives with important digital files/photos
  • Copies of keys
  • Vehicle maintenance records
  • Emergency contacts and phone numbers

Personal Records After You’re Gone

  • Will and trust documents
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Living wills
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement Accounts
  • Burial instructions

There are probably more items that we have left off these lists. Plus, papers important to just you, such as stories or poems you’ve written. Even those few special greeting cards you’ve saved.

So where do you keep your Red File of important papers? In case of fire, the best place is in a safe or fireproof box. Make sure it’s easily accessible but not stored out in the open.

But the other good reason to keep your Red File? Those rare occasions where you’ll need that one important paper. We mentioned a REAL ID driver’s license above. But there can be tax audits and medical emergencies. And birth certificates to get the kids signed up for various activities. You’ll be glad you can simply refer to your Red Book.

So while you’re cooped up at home during this shutdown, here’s a productive activity. It may very well save you time and grief later on.

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

PS. Also, take a look at these articles about some of the important decisions you’ve put on paper that we’ve published on our blog.

SZW Insurance is your Utica area Trusted Choice™ independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here. In Westchester County call Zak Scalzo at 914.246.0315 or email at zaks@szwinsurance.com.