Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Part 13: Organising Chaos - Legal Documents

Part 3 of Organizing Chaos was Paperwork and Books. For those of you who missed out that part, here is a link to that. Within that post, I had spoken a little about maintaining your important legal documents. Considering how crucial this topic is, I had to have a separate post on my blog on it. I would like to share a few paragraphs from that post first of all. 

My Bachelors and Masters original laminated degrees

Importance of legal documents

I believe it is vital to keep documents in order as it saves time and money which are the two biggest blessings from Allah. Every house has crucial paperwork like:


House Rent/Mortgage/Possession Form
Passport
Driving License
National Insurance Card
National Identity card
Insurance (life,travel,mobile,contents)
Online/Telephone Banking Detail
ATM/Debit/Credit card
Work/Company Contract
Bank Statements & Pay slips
Car & Marriage Certificate
Education Degree



Most of these documents are so critical that they cannot be duplicated in case they are misplaced or stolen. Ideally the originals of such documents should be placed either in a locker away from the house or in a lockable place. Only their photocopies and softcopies should be conveniently accessible to you. If in case they are kept at home, they should be in plastic folders to minimize the chances of damage and to protect them from dust and moisture. One should also keep a proper record of documents like health center certificates (or hospital registration cards), contract forms (mobile, TV & laptop), receipts (of paid bills and important/recent purchases), CVs, government documents (used for elections) and sports membership forms. I feel that we should have a file or folder for each subject and its contents should be labeled on the top.

  
The files I organized in my house in London

This is for all you girls out there. Know that it is illegal for anyone else to keep your passport, visa, bank cards or personal IDs even for a short time. No matter how much we trust them, we should never risk taking a chance regarding these important documents. No one should be given the slightest opportunity to deprive you of your basic rights. A lot of terrible things happen in this world to people only because they got hold of the other persons passport and IDs. Unfortunately, in most cases, just when you least expect it, it’s one’s own family members (e.g. spouse, siblings etc). Don’t let yourself be a victim. Belonging to a country like Pakistan, it is very common for people to indulge in such a crime, as they know they won’t get caught. So here, it is even more important to remain in command, always.


Laminated legal documents 

In my life, I have witnessed close relations committing this crime twice within a year soon after Papa left us. This world is a cruel place, and who wouldn't mind a little hanky panky especially when they know they will get away with it. In such cases, our fault is that we are the weaker ones. We need to gain more command so no one is given a chance. I was on a Christmas holiday to Pakistan with my ex-husband when he stole my UK visa and went back to our house in England alone. His mom said "do whatever you want, we will not return your visa". I could never return to my house, my job or to the country I had been living in. I lost everything I earned in those five years. My mistake was that I trusted him blindly enough to leave my visa in his parents house. I was caught off guard and had no copies of the document with me as I had organized everything at home. I also should never have allowed his mom to keep all my jewelry in her own locker. I have learned these concepts the hard way now. The reason I'm finally exposing just a few of these harsh facts is not because I want to badmouth them but only because I don't want other girls to be as weak as I was. I want all of you to be strong women who are in charge of their own possessions and do not give others an opportunity to exploit them. Islam gives a woman the right to keep 100% of her earning and possessions. She should not let anyone deprive her of this basic human right. 



So it is vital to have a scanned copy (or a good picture) of your important documents (like passport, visas, debit cards, driving license and your online banking details) uploaded on an online account like Dropbox or OneDrive. The password of your personal online space should only be known to you. In case you lose them or someone steals them, you will a copy with you where ever you are. If you are not prepared, the consequences can be devastating. By being organized this way, you will not be secretive but rather you will be a secure woman who is in control of herself.


Photocopies of CNIC

My focus today
First we have to note what exactly we mean by legal or important documents. What I want to focus on here today are two things. One is maintain a hardcopy, and second is preserving a softcopy of all our legal documents online.

What is an important document?
Any document which has a legal standing and is required time and time again is an important document. Typically important ones have been listed above. There are differences in legal papers from one country to another. But the general trend is:

How original and laminated color copies look so much alike 

Your birth certificate, family registration certificate, National Identity card (current and copies of all old ones), Passports (current and all your old ones), country visa (not all visas are stamped on passport, some are issued on a separate card), work permit, driving license, education certificates (college, university, degrees and final transcript), Internship certificates, work contracts (or offer letter), pay slips, experience letters, marriage certificate, divorce certificate, death certificate (of family member), bank cards, bank statements, insurance certificates, health certificates, language test results (e.g. IELTS), car documents, house documents (rent contract, possession certificate, tenancy agreements), list of jewelry and items in locker, and your latest CV or resume.


1. Hardcopies
Many of your legal documents are just like your beloved: one and only! We cannot afford to have these caught up in a fire or drowning in the sea. As far as our identity, national Insurance and driving license cards are concerned, it is advised to get a little plastic holder from a nearby photocopier and keep originals locked inside your house. 

Little plastic holder for original driving license

Passports can be kept in any plastic container in a lockable space in your house or a bank locker (in your own name). I keep good quality colored hardcopy of my CNIC card, driving license and B/W copies of my CNIC cards in my wallet. I never keep originals in wallet as I have had my wallet stolen more than thrice in my life which is the average for most people.

Picture of my wallet 


Now we move on to other legal documents (i.e. marriage certificates, education degrees, final transcripts, work contracts, experience letters etc) Most of us don’t realize that, even if we're careful, paper tends to get destroyed (torn edges) by the effects of dust and humidity over time.

My legal documents, all dressed up and looking flashy

What we need to do is get hold of all our important legal documents and take them to a photocopier as they offer lamination services. This means they will have a plastic coating from 3 sides. The top will be left open. This is in case you want to take the document out for some reason (esp. scanning or amendment purposes).

Plastic coated education documents

2. Softcopies
We are lucky to be living in the internet age. We all have enormous amount of space available to us online. It would be a pity if we don’t use this space properly. As mentioned in my last article, I have learned it the hard way how important it is to keep a copy of all your legal and important documents online. Life is really very unpredictable, just when you least expect it, your most important documents can be stolen or misplaced. It is vital to keep an online record of all your legal documents. You should not give away the password of this space to anyone else

Consider this scenario. Suppose your legal document gets stolen/lost. When you call up the concerned office to inform them, they require details from this document. In case you don't have a softcopy of it, you will not be able to provide them the details they require in order to issue a replacement. 


Recently my bank card got stolen (my wallet actually). It was an emergency as I had to get my card blocked ASAP so no one else could use it. When I called up my bank, as part of their process, they required my card long number and expiry date so it could be blocked. Of course I didn't remember these details but I needed them urgently. Thank God, I remembered my Important Documents folder on my online space OneDrive. I told them to hold on the line. I used internet on my mobile phone, opened this folder and got my debit card picture from there and gave them the details. They instantly blocked the card and issued a new one for me. There are many banks who can block cards without a lot of information but not all banks operate in the same way. If I didn't have these details with me that day, I would have been in deep soup. 


 How the folders appear in OneDrive 

In case you do not own a good quality scanner, please make it a point to go to the nearest photocopier shop and get all your legal documents scanned in good quality. Now all these images should be uploaded online on your personal space.

If you have a hotmail email account, you are entitled to approx 25 GB space free on www.onedrive.com using your hotmail account details. Gmail users get 15 GB free on Google Drive using their Gmail account details. Anyone can create an account on Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) for 2 GB free space and Hidrive (www.free-hidrive.com) for 5 GB free space. OpenDrive, SpideOak and ZumoDrive are also online space websites which may be tested. Degoo (www.degoo.com) provides 100 GB free online backup space.

A sneak peek into my OneDrive folder called Important documents


Just a note about password protection. We should never keep a password which can be guessed. Ideally a password should have at least two special characters, At least two numbers, at least two capital alphabets and should not make any sense. An example of a strong password is T5*sj%Qz. This password cannot be guessed, makes no sense at all and thus cannot be hacked. The only problem with it is that you will not be able to remember it. We can always write it down in our mobile notes (make sure you don’t keep a title on it as it can again be a security threat) and refer to it whenever needed. At least it will be safe from hackers which our main objective.

I know life is so busy with work, family and other commitments. Many times we read such articles, think of getting organized one day and before we know it, we are distracted. Please note this as an urgent task in your To-Do list. I would say that this post is the crux of Organizing Chaos series. If your clothes, jewelry, kitchen or toilet are in a mess, it may not matter as you can still go on with your life. But if you don't keep your legal documents in place (both hardcopies and their softcopies) it can mess up your life badly. I am focusing a lot on this because I do not want my sweet readers to suffer all that I have due to this. I would love to know how you keep your important documents. Lots of love.

10 comments:

  1. nadiya you are such an inspiration. love your blog!! you're an organized and sweet person. wish you luck for life. may God keep you under his mercy. ameen! love! :) :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I didn't expect to read this on your blog and I'm actually surprised that you have all that written up there, I hope you post it on Facebook and make it possible for a lot of people to read it, cause I know for a fact how important paperwork can be and how it is critical to have it with you and not with anyone else. a good read. thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your positive feedback. I'm glad it could help. I do normally share my posts on facebook. There is a page Nadiya Najib - Blogger with my posts there too now. Thanks for the idea.

      Delete
  3. I didn't expect to read this on your blog and I'm actually surprised that you have all that written up there, I hope you post it on Facebook and make it possible for a lot of people to read it, cause I know for a fact how important paperwork can be and how it is critical to have it with you and not with anyone else. a good read. thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. We think your information is much handy to me. When you keep going the perfect job i’ll come back at your weblog.
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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot. :)
      Looking forward to your return.

      Delete
  5. New web site is looking good. Thanks for the great effort.tort law

    ReplyDelete
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