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Organize Your Important Papers

When you own a home, the organization and safe keeping of documents and other important papers is imperative to you and your family. It may not seem that important, but it is.

You never know when a devastating event or something tragic might happen, such as a fire, earthquake, flood, tornado, burglary and theft, a severe illness or accident, or even death. It may not happen today, but tomorrow is always open for the possibility of unforeseen events that can turn your life upside down.

From the moment you decide to buy your home, you will be bombarded with important documents. They start with the first offer you make on the home, any counter offers, escrow instructions, loan documents, appraisal reports, home inspection reports, title insurance policies, life insurance policies, deeds, mortgage notes, deeds of trust, closing statements, homeowner insurance policies, and other important papers.

All the above listed documents are important and should be stored in a safe place. They should be readily available at a moments notice, which can save you and your family time, money, and headaches if they are needed.

It is well worth the money to buy a fireproof, waterproof, filing cabinet or safe deposit box. Files should be labeled in categories. For instance, your deed, mortgage note, deed of trust, title insurance policy, and settlement statements should be kept together.

Homeowners insurance policies and all additional riders, such as earthquake, flood, and any other related polices should be filed together. Keep the insurance company's name, address, business cards, telephone numbers and any related correspondence or documentation from the insurance companies or from your insurance agent in this file.

If you do any type of home improvements, big or small, file the contracts, contractor's names and telephone numbers, and all purchases and receipts together. Make sure your get the contractor's license number and keep it on file, too.

It is important to keep property tax bills and your record of payment as long as you own your home. Records of property tax payments may be needed if you are ever audited and, believe it or not, your tax records could get misplaced in the tax assessors office.

All documents, papers, contracts, receipts, and any warranties and insurance policies should be kept for as long as they are in affect, and it is reasonable to keep them even longer, especially paid receipts.

When you buy something, and you pay for it in full, it is legally yours. But if you are challenged in court, and you don't have the necessary documentation showing that it was paid in full, you may find yourself in a dilemma. It will be up to you to provide paid receipts or cancelled checks to prove that you did. This is another reason to keep your important documents organized and stored in a safe place.

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