The Ultimate "What-If" Binder
Updated: Oct 16
Keeping your important documents organized is probably something you have had on your to-do list ever since becoming a parent, but it feels really daunting. Have you ever thought about what would happen if there was an accident & something happened to you or your significant other? Would anyone know where to access your latest will, know where you bank, or what your wishes are for your babies?
I know this isn't the most exciting exercise to go through but as someone who experienced this scenario as a child & now a mother myself, I believe that having this information together can really help you feel better prepared in the event of an emergency or accident. I have brought you an easy solution to keep your documents organized & easy for your loved ones to find with the ultimate "What If" Binder!
Heading #1: Benefits of Keeping a binder
Heading #2: Items to gather for your binder
Heading #3: Ideas on where to store your binder
Heading #4: Small Tips
Heading #5: Final Thoughts
benefits of keeping a what-if binder
Do you handle all the finances, appointments, and login information for all your accounts? Does your significant other handle all those things? Are you constantly forgetting your passwords to things or having trouble finding documents when you need them?
Losing a loved one is devastating, the last thing anyone wants to do is guess what your wishes are or dig through all your drawers in a flurry trying to find the important information needed. Although getting your affairs in order isn't necessarily a fun task to do, it is very important. In my personal experience, having this binder eases my mind in case something were to happen to me, I know that my loved ones would know what my wishes are & can easily access all the information that they may need to disperse my assets the way I intended.
Another benefit to having a binder like this is you can keep all your important information in one place. You don't have to go searching through your filing cabinet or safe to find your policy or passports, they will be organized & secure in one spot.
If hard copies & binders aren't your thing, you can also keep this in a digital format!
items to gather for your binder
If you decide to use the Ultimate "What If" Binder here is a list of supplies I recommend:
A sturdy 2" or 3" ring binder - a larger binder will allow for you to include important documents such as a will, insurance policies, etc.
Dividers - to easily section out the different areas of the binder.
Zipper Pockets, Envelope Pages, or Page Protectors - these are helpful to keep documents secure, kept nice, & easy to remove if needed.
(If printing) Thicker paper - I like this paper for printing important documents but that may just be me nitpicking.
(If digital) USB - if you don't want to keep a binder with everything, one option is to keep your information on a USB drive.
Here is a partial list of some important documents that you will need to include in your binder (you can download the full list by clicking the button below at the end of this article, it gets a little lengthy):
Birth Certificates - important if you are needing a driver's license, obtain a passport, register for a marriage license, register a child for school, etc.
Social Security Cards - important if you are needing a driver's license, obtain a passport, open a bank account, obtain a loan, etc.
Passports - important to prove citizenship & offer another form of ID.
Copy of Driver's Licenses - important to open bank accounts, apply for a loan, apply to rent a place, open a business, etc.
Marriage/Divorce Certificates - important to prove your name change.
Last Will & Testament - important to relay a person's final wishes.
Living Will - important to relay medical treatments you would or would not want to keep you alive, as well as organ donation or pain management.
Trust - important if you want to hold assets for your children until a certain age, and also a way to reduce income & estate taxes.
Power of Attorney - this person would care for your finances, properties, & investments. You can also let this same person be able to make medical decisions on your behalf or appoint someone else as your Medical Power of Attorney. This article by Investopedia does a great job explaining the difference.
ideas on where to store your information
I know you're wondering - "Okay, Tori. You're telling me to put all my important information in one place, but how do I keep it safe?" Great question! Each family & home is different. I can't tell you
exactly what the best option is, you will have to decide what you think is best & something you are comfortable with.
Below are a couple of options that I recommend:
Fireproof Safe or Document Storage Box: This is a great option if you are planning on printing your binder or keeping it on a USB drive. Another benefit is that you can keep other important assets in a safe like this as well. Check with your insurance company to make sure the items in the safe can be covered under your policy.
Bank Security Box: This is a secure container that you can rent from your bank. You can keep important documents in here, but it is important to note that you don't want to keep things you may need to get out frequently. This is also a good option if you are using a USB. Note that your items will not be insured by the bank, but you may be able to add a special policy to your home insurance.
Secure Cloud Storage: If you would rather keep a digital copy of your information you can fill out the binder PDF on your computer & save it with your other files. Some platforms that I have used & liked are Google Drive, Dropbox, & Box. Some other highly rated ones are Sync.com & pCloud.
Tip 1: Be sure to give the location details of the binder to your significant other and/or a trusted family member. I would recommend having at least two people know where your Emergency information is. I would choose one person in your immediate circle & someone who maybe you aren't living or traveling with often. Make sure they know that this is only for emergency purposes & what steps need to be taken in order to gain access to the binder.
Tip 2: Be sure to update your information regularly. Your life & assets will change. I recommend at least making sure everything is up-to-date once a year.
I know it's not a fun concept to think about what would happen in the event of an emergency or if something were to happen to you or your significant other, but it is essential!
This post should give you some ideas on how to put together your own binder, or you can use our link below to purchase one from The Savvy Sparrow & receive 15% off using the code "TORI15".
You got this, mama!
A Personal Note Amy created this binder after almost passing away a couple of days after having her second daughter to a rare condition called peripartum cardiomyopathy. The event shifted her mindset in the way that she looked at motherhood & her everyday life.
You can read her full story here.
I found Amy's Emergency Binder after having my second daughter. I was plagued with anxiety about something happening to me & my children being left in the hands of the wrong person or the money I had not going to them. Would my husband know any of our bank login information or where the kid's birth certificates were? I know it isn't normal for most people to have nightmares about things like this, but when I was 14 my mother died unexpectedly. Everyone was devastated & shocked. I remember going home & everyone was rummaging through all her stuff to find her will & other important information. My mother saved all sorts of stuff, but she was also one of those people who would write important account numbers on random envelopes. It was a mess. It led to some really unfortunate events in my life & as an adult, I even had to untangle some issues with her house because things were not filed properly. Due to this, it is really important for me to have my affairs in order, even though I plan to live a long & healthy life with my kiddos, I also am aware that things happen. I hope that, if something did happen to me, this would make things a little easier on those that I love the most.