Julie Morgenstern On Keeping A Vital Documents Map: A Just-In-Case Guide to Important Information

Organizing expert Julie Morgenstern on how to easily find your important documents

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After two-plus decades of marriage, Patrick and Nancy had household responsibilities down to a well-choreographed dance: Patrick managed the bills and investments, while Nancy handled the meals and kept the house in good repair.  If Nancy didn’t cook dinner, Patrick could always order take-out; but if anything ever happened to Patrick, Nancy wouldn’t have the slightest clue where to find important family records, financial documents, or the key to their safe deposit box.

Nancy and Patrick’s division of labor is perfectly ok, but in the event of trouble – a misplaced wallet, records lost in a flood, just plain old forgetfulness – you need an index of your most important records, a “Vital Documents Map” I call it, so you and your family know where everything is. In five steps, you’ll gain the peace of mind in knowing you’ll be able to find what you need when you need it.


New York Times bestselling author Julie Morgenstern is an organizing and time-management expert, business productivity consultant and speaker. Her company, Julie Morgenstern Enterprises, is dedicated to using her philosophies and methods to provide a wide range of practical solutions that transform the way people and companies function.

3 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Joan Larsen says:

    Dear Julie —

    Your information given is so important . . . but I have several more that are more than helpful in emergencies also.  Keep an update on your list of doctors with specialties including phone numbers folded up in your wallet.  Also keep an up-to-date list of all medications, stressing that it must be current.  This could save your life.

    Always, have a close neighbor or best friend keep a duplicate key to your front door — and we will assume she will have your cell phone number also and the number of at least one family member.

    Be sure to have that living will and power of attorney in that folder also!


    • avatar Mary says:

      Might I add as a new Senior with some medical issues and living alone I have thought about.  Keep a copy of your medical information in a envelope clearly labeled IN CASE OF EMERGENCY on your fridge door with a magnet.  No it doesn’t look pretty, but, if you need emergency care it is easy to spot and not forget where it is and could save your life.  Anyone of any age should do this.

      • avatar ann penn says:

        You might also want to keep a 2nd copy of that info in your refrigerator’s freezer. It has insulation that might enable papers to survive a fire while the papers on the outside could be destroyed. Such papers could be placed in a container in the freezer with appropriate labeling.