Organising Chaos Series: Legal Documents
Introduction & definition
On this series earlier, we talked about Paperwork & Books. Today we are focusing on legal documents only.
This article might change your life. It can save you from a lot of hardship. It could be the most important piece of advice you would ever get.
Any document which has a legal standing and is required time and time again is an important document. There are differences in legal documents between countries. Every house has crucial paperwork like the following:
|Passport||Insurance (life, rental, travel, mobile)||Education Degrees & results|
|National Identity Card||ATM/Debit/Credit card||Internship & work Contracts|
|Driving License||Bank Statements||Work Experience letters|
|National Insurance or Social Insurance||List of Jewellery||Pay slips|
|Birth Certificate||Items list in Locker||Latest updated Resume|
|House Rent/Mortgage/Possession Form||Online/Telephone Banking Detail||Language Assessment results|
|Marriage Certificates||Family Registration Certificate||Car documents|
|Dealth Certificates||Medical file||Loan/investment details|
You must keep all copies of old and new passports and ID cards. I recommend keeping an online copy of all close family members documents too as you need them at times. Also if they ever lose theirs, you would have a copy to help them out.
Importance of legal documents
I believe it is vital to keep documents in order as it saves time and money which are the our biggest blessings.
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 soft copies should be conveniently accessible to you.
Types of legal documents
What I want to focus on here today are two things. One is maintain a hardcopy, and second is preserve a soft copy of all legal documents online. We all must remember that the cloud is the way forward. We cannot afford to rely on physical copies of documents only whether they are personal, official or business related.
1. Hard copy
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 thrown in the river.
Tips for taking care of hard copies
- 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. If in case they are kept at home, they should be in plastic folders to minimise the chances of damage and to protect them from dust and moisture.
2. I keep good quality coloured 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.
3. Passports can be kept in any plastic container in a lockable space in your house or a bank locker (in your own name).
4. Regarding other documents like medical file, contract forms (mobile, TV & laptop), receipts (of paid bills and important/recent purchases), CVs, government documents (used for elections), sports membership forms, marriage certificates, education degrees, final transcripts, work contracts, experience letters. I feel that we should have a file or folder for each subject and its contents should be labeled on the top. Most of us don’t realise that, even if we’re careful, paper tends to get destroyed (torn edges) by the effects of dust and humidity over time.
5. If you live outside Pakistan, receipts of purchases are important as they can be used to return an unused/faulty item or the receipts may be needed later for tax returns. The best way for that is to keep an empty shoe box to add all receipts organised monthly.
2. Soft copies
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 Cloud (an online account like OneDrive, Google drive or Drop box). Don’t share your cloud password with anyone else (not even your partner). 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.
Importance of soft copies of legal documents on your cloud
- In case you lose the physical copy of your legal documents, or are out when you need them, you will a copy with you where ever you go.
- 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 soft copy 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 bank 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. There are many banks who can block cards without a lot of information but not all banks operate in the same way.
- Many times my husband and I have been stopped by Islamabad or KPK Police asking us for our Nikah Nama, I always showed it to them as it is always backed up on my OneDrive accessible by phone.
How to upload legal documents on your cloud
- Firstly, you need excellent quality of all your documents for which a scanner is the best thing.
- In case you do not own a good quality scanner, make it a point to go to the nearest photocopier shop and get all your legal documents scanned in good quality.
- In case it is really not possible to go to a photocopier and get all your legal documents scanned, you can use your phone/camera to take good pictures. You can download this app called Office Lens available in mobile app stores for high quality scanning from the comfort of your phone.
- Once you have got images ready, you should edit the images by adding contrast to make sure all edges are properly cropped and all writing is clear.
- Once your images are ready, you need to rename each image with exactly what it is. (e.g. Nadiya passport).
- Next step is to create new folders with exact name of what it contains. Give good thought to exactly what files go under what folder to make sure all your legal documents are fully organised. Keep the goal in mind: To find anything you need within seconds.
- Following is my main Onedrive folder to give you some inspiration for main folder names. This is followed by and image of what Important Documents folder contains. Check out the second image in detail for ideas of what to name folders.
Which online cloud to choose to upload legal documents
If you have a Hotmail email account, you are entitled to approx 25 GB space free on One Drive 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 for 2 GB free space and Hidrive for 5 GB free space.
SpideOak is also online space website which may be tested. Degoo provides 100 GB free online backup space. Mobile apps are available for all these drives so all your legal documents are only one click away. I would personally recommend using the first or second options as I have personally used them and have had a great experience of using them.
- Don’t share your cloud password with anyone (not even spouse).
- 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.
- Never save password on a PC unless it is only yours and no one has access to it. Make sure you uncheck password saving option if your’e using your official PC or anyone else’s.
This is for all you girls out there. Know that it is illegal for anyone else to keep your passport CNIC, 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.
Consequences of negligence
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. If you are not prepared, the consequences can be devastating. By being organised this way, you will not be secretive but rather you will be a secure woman who is in control of herself.
The story that taught me a real lesson in life
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 organised everything at home.
I also should never have allowed his mom to keep all my jewellery 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.
Please mark this as an urgent task in your To-Do list