Important Documents Binder

Regardless of how involved you are in Emergency Prepardness, everyone should have an Important Documents Binder.

This is a three-ring binder containing all of the important documents in your life: all of your financial, legal, insurance, and vital records.  Some of these will be the original documents, some will be copies of the original documents (such as your driver’s license and credit cards) because you need to keep the originals on your person.  I include my family’s Emergency Plan in the binder also. 

These documents and records are all kept in a binder, as opposed to a file cabinet, so that you can easily take it with you when evacuating your house.  It is the first non-living thing you take out.  In other words, when you have to leave your house in an emergency, after the people and pets, your Important Documents Binder is next to go!  You want to keep your binder in a handy, yet secure, location.

There are non-life-threatening reasons to have your documents accessible.  As an example, a Wyoming friend was traveling on the East Coast.  Shortly after leaving a restaurant one evening, she discovered her wallet was missing (with her credit cards, etc.).  When the restaurant said they did not have her wallet, she was able to call home and have one of her children look in her Important Documents Binder for her credit card numbers and the contact information.  She then called the credit card companies to report the theft and cancel the cards.  Within one hour of the theft, there was already several thousand dollars of charges on her credit cards!  Additionally, I find myself referring to the information in my binder throughout the year.  For example, when I take my dogs in for a nail trim, I can easily grab their proof of vaccination, which the groomer requires.

Once your binder is established, it needs to be updated regularly. With the passage of time and the changes that are always occurring in life, the documents you need to keep in your binder evolves.




  • birth certificates
  • passports
  • driver’s licenses
  • social security cards
  • immunization records (adults too!)
  • CASH – keep a stash of a few hundred dollars in small bills
  • will, living trust, power of attorney, etc.
  • living will / health care power of attorney / advance directives (I like the Five Wishes program)
  • medical and prescription information
  • military documents
  • church records
  • diplomas and transcripts
  • marriage certificates
  • adoption records
  • pet records
  • proof of citizenship and/or legal immigrant status
  • death certificates (of any immediate family member)


  • homeowners insurance policy
  • auto insurance policy
  • life insurance policy
  • medical insurance policy
  • inventory and pictures of your personal belongings for insurance
  • serial numbers of electronics and appliances


  • copies of your credit cards, front and back, with contact information
  • bank statements and an extra check book
  • retirement/social security statements
  • utilities account numbers and contact information
  • loan and credit account numbers with contact information
  • investment statements
  • property deeds
  • registration and titles to cars, boats, etc.
  • warranty information
  • active contracts
  • previous year’s tax return and documents
  • current credit report


  • USB drive with scans of pictures and scans of documents
  • internet usernames and passwords

Don’t delay, start getting your Important Documents Binder together today!