A post by a guest author who would like to remain anony­mous

Arti­cles and videos abound that dis­cuss grab bags (aka “bug out bags”) for a SHTF event. Each varies some­what for con­tent but in gen­er­al they all men­tion tak­ing sup­plies of food, water, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, clothes, med­ical, light­ing, heat­ing, defens­es, etc. All good things to be sure.

But all these sources over look a sig­nif­i­cant thing to also bring: Doc­u­ments!

Even in an SHTF sce­nario the world still runs on paper­work. Short of a total glob­al col­lapse lead­ing to Mad Max liv­ing, soon­er or lat­er order in one form or anoth­er will be restored. And then that hap­pens at least some mea­sure of the struc­tures of soci­ety – prop­er­ty, mon­ey, residency/citizenship, etc – will resume. As such you need to include a bare bones min­i­mum lev­el of doc­u­men­ta­tion to bring with you.

To that end I have cre­at­ed a “grab envel­op”. This is a large mani­la enve­lope that con­tains orig­i­nals and/or copies of what I con­sid­er the barest min­i­mum doc­u­men­ta­tion I would need dur­ing and after an SHTF event.

In my enve­lope I include the fol­low­ing:   (all items are orig­i­nals unless oth­er­wise stat­ed)

  • Mar­riage license
  • Cer­ti­fied Birth Cer­tifi­cates for all mem­bers of our fam­i­ly
  • Durable Pow­er of Attor­ney (one from me to my wife, one from her to me)
  • Health­care Proxy (one for me, one for my wife giv­ing the oth­er author­i­ty)
  • Liv­ing Wills (one for me, one for my wife)
  • Copies of our Last Will and Tes­ta­ment (orig­i­nal is kept in our attor­neys’ vault)
  • Copies of our Social Secu­ri­ty cards
  • Copies of our U.S. Pass­ports
  • Copies of our auto­mo­bile titles
  • Copies of var­i­ous permits/licenses/etc.
  • Copies of our col­lege tran­scripts
  • Copies of invoic­es that prove legal own­er­ship of cer­tain items

The enve­lope is kept at home in a fire-proof box with easy acces­si­bil­i­ty.

This list rep­re­sents what I think is the bare min­i­mum doc­u­ments my fam­i­ly would need to prove who we are, what we own, and put our lives back togeth­er after a sig­nif­i­cant SHTF event. It is designed for quick grab&go. If time allows it would of course be bet­ter to have orig­i­nals instead of copies for as much as pos­si­ble. Add to the list any­thing more spe­cif­ic to your life such as title to oth­er prop­er­ty, sig­nif­i­cant court papers (e.g. adop­tion orders, trust doc­u­ments, deeds, etc).

The like­li­hood of a total nation­al col­lapse, let alone a glob­al col­lapse, with noth­ing tak­ing its place after­wards just one big post-apoc­a­lyp­tic no-man’s land is extreme­ly low. Even in a great upheaval, in this time of the elec­tron­ic age, it’s still a paper soci­ety.

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