How to Create a Vital Records Protection Plan

In October 31, 2014

Your vital records, such as a birth certificate and marriage certificate, and those from close family members (even death certificates) are some of your most important possessions. While they can be replaced, the last thing you want is for them to end up in the wrong hands, or you are not be able to put your hands on them when you need them. That is why it’s very important that you develop a vital records protection plan. If you do not already have one of these in place, the following tips can help you get started.

  • Waterproof Them – What can you do to make sure your documents are protected from water? While laminating may seem an ideal solution, in most cases laminated documents cannot be used for legal purposes and you would need to obtain new copies for those purposes. One idea to keep them safe from water damage is to store them inside a high-quality zipper bag. Then, you can keep them in your safe, file or your other designated spot and avoid the chance they will get wet if there was a flood.
  • Don’t Lose Them – One of the biggest threats to vital records can just be ourselves, and simply misplacing these critical documents. It is easy to tell yourself you are putting the papers away somewhere safe and then forget where that safe place is actually located. Make sure you have a place picked out that’s not only safe, but one you will be able to remember when needed.
  • Protect Them From the Family – Another problem can be that other family members may take a document (for a valid reason) and forget to put it back. If you store your documents somewhere only you know where they are, or maintain a check-out system, you will know when your child or spouse takes the paper and you can make sure it is put back properly later.
  • Share the Information – The counterpoint to the last statement is that someone else should know where the family’s vital records are stored. If you happen to be away or unreachable, someone else needs to know how to obtain these important papers in case it became necessary.
  • Consider a Safe Deposit Box – In many families, putting the papers in a safe deposit box makes a lot of sense. Not only are documents locked up and have no risk of loss, but these boxes are both waterproof and fireproof—assuring continued safety.

Every family’s plan for vital records protection will be a little bit different. No matter how you decide to protect these documents, just make sure you have a backup plan too—such as a way to order replacement birth certificates online. That way, in case the worst happens, you’re not stuck without those documents you so desperately need!


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