4 Steps to Get Organized: Important Documents and Passwords

Sometimes a big event touches off a nerve that spurs you to get your affairs in order, especially if it involves your health or the health of a loved one. But, really, it’s never too soon to organize important documents and records and store them in a safe place, with all your user names and passwords written down—and no, don’t save them in a Word document as “passwords” on your desktop.

Maintaining all those names, numbers and ever-changing passwords in your head is confusing, so we put together four steps in partnership with Lauren Warner, a professional organizer with NEAT Method, a lifestyle and organization service with representatives nationwide, to get started.

1. Invest in a Water/Fire-safe Space

Buy a water- and fire-proof box or safe where you can store these documents safely. That’s the first step, Warner says.

2. Organize with Folders

Warner recommends having a folder for each of the following:

  • Bank account numbers and credit-card account numbers
  • Family members contact information (phone number & address)
  • Financial documents (portfolio information, proof of property titles)
  • Insurance documents (agent contact information and policy numbers health/home/life)
  • Passport
  • Personal wills/birth certificates
  • Personal family documents (family tree, personal letters, pictures, things that are irreplaceable)
  • Social Security Card

3. Designate a Willing Backup

Warner suggests making copies of everything in the safe, as well as a key to the safe, and then give these to a trusted friend or family member who lives outside the home.

4. Keep Passwords in One Place

The sheer number of usernames and passwords you or your loved one has is probably overwhelming. Think: bank, online shopping, credit cards, email, voicemail, online bill pay (mortgage, electric), ATM PINs, investments, insurance and more. Luckily, several online and mobile app services have been developed to keep your passwords together and safe from prying eyes, in one place.

  • Norton Identity Safe: A free cloud service that syncs across all browsers and computers so you only have to remember one master password.
  • KeePass: Put all your passwords in one database with one master password.
  • Clipperz: Anything you import here is encrypted so not even Clipperz knows your information.
  • Keeper Password & Data Vault: For both iPhone and Android, this free app organizes your passwords, can share them with family and will auto-fill in your passwords for your favorite websites.
  • SecureSafe: Hey, who better to protect your stuff than the Swiss? SecureSafe offers online storage as well as apps for both Droid and iPhone and “more privacy than a Swiss bank account.

“No one wants to think about a potential tragedy, but implementing these few easy steps will give you the confidence that you or your loved ones have everything necessary for life’s unexplained events,” she says.

How Do You Organize Important Documents?

How do you organize important documents or passwords? Share your helpful hints in the comments section below.

  • Candace Prather

    Thank you for all this information.

  • pande

    dear friend
    was very informative and useful we wish such more info from yourgudself

  • Jeremiah

    nice one. i think i like it

  • ellajames

    Thanks so much for writing this. It is very helpful.

  • Diane Steckler

    Take a photo of all your important documents and passwords and any other information, download it onto an SD card. I have one that looks like a locket. Mark it with your initials. We have one with all of our photos also. Your not limited to any amount and they don’t take up room in a safety deposit box. You can print them out also, then delete the file.

  • Kathi

    Thank you for these tips…this is something I will definitely be “trying” to accomplish. Just recently was hearing more about the “password” keepers…interesting. When you have a child with chronic health conditions and you don’t know if you’ll be in your local hospital or somewhere in another state for treatment the ability to get someone’s hand on necessary forms quickly is a godsend. Thank you again for this great information!