If your household is like most, it's likely that you and your family members are drowning in a sea of paper. Although computer experts have long talked about the "paperless" office of the future, most families and businesses have a long way to go in order to achieve that lofty goal. In many cases, the trick to effective paper control involves throwing out a lot of what you really don't need. However, there are some documents that are simply too important to throw out. In fact, many of these documents deserve their own special organizational strategy in order to keep them safe and secure. If you're not sure of the best way to store your family's most important documents, here are some tips that can help.

What Should You Save?

Although every family is a little bit different, there are a few important documents that are nearly universal. You should keep your family's birth certificates and social security information in a secure location. Stock and bond certificates are other important documents that deserve special consideration. Passports, your marriage license, and your home, vehicle and life insurance policies also need a safe storage location, as do vehicle titles and any contracts or agreements that you might have.

Although not quite as important as the documents listed above, you'll probably also want to take extra care when storing your yearly tax returns and receipts, health care records and credit card or bank statements. In some cases, it's only necessary to keep some of these documents for a specified period of time. However, if you've ever needed to find a tax return in a hurry or needed your bank statements in order to apply for a loan, you know how frustrating it can be if you can't find one or more of these important documents.

Even though they may not have any legal importance, most families also have a few documents that are important from a sentimental standpoint. Greeting cards, treasured family photos or even possibly your "family tree" information may fall into this category. It's just as important to find a safe and secure storage location for these items as it is for documents that hold great legal importance. After all, some things just simply cannot be replaced.

Lockbox, Safe or Filing Cabinet?

Once you've located all of your family's important documents, it's time to develop a safe and effective organization strategy. Many people find that storing their most important papers in a bank safety deposit box provides them with peace of mind. However, storing these documents at the bank can sometimes make it difficult to have access to them when you need them in a hurry. Small fireproof lockboxes are a good solution for important documents, allowing you to grab them in a hurry and easily carry them in the case of a household emergency. For slightly less important documents such as tax returns and bank statements, a small filing cabinet can be quite handy.

If you have a collection of cards, photographs or other sentimentally associated papers, it can be helpful to protect them by creating an archive. If possible, scan the documents and photographs so that you can create a backup of them on a CD or DVD. Then, store the paper and digital versions of the photos or documents in different locations as a safety precaution. For example, if you have a safety deposit box at the bank, this might be a good location for a CD containing your scanned family photographs.

Author's Bio: 

Home design expert, Maya Willis of Metal-Wall-Art.com, is particularly skilled in designing with Southwestern metal art decor and rustic metal wall art.