Dear Kathi,

My wife and I are having an argument about what papers should go, if any into the new fireproof box I just purchased. She feels that our tax returns, passports and kids school records should go in. I’m not convinced. Do we need to store all of these papers? If we do, I need to go buy a larger box.

Keith, Oceanside


I am so glad that you purchased a fire box. I advise every client to purchase one if they don’t already have a safe or bank deposit box. Some documents are too valuable to stash in a filing cabinet or kitchen drawer. To decide what should be stowed in your new box, think about the level of difficulty endured to replace them if they were lost or damaged. Among them will be: Automobile titles. Birth certificates. Citizenship papers and passports. Deeds to property; mortgage notes. Marriage licenses and divorce decrees. Military discharge records. Social Security cards. Stock certificates, if your broker doesn’t keep them for you. Because some states restrict access to safe deposit boxes when the owner dies, these should NOT be stored in a safe deposit box: Powers of attorney. Wills and trusts.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

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San Diego Professional Organizer