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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We’re a group of suburban preppers in the Northeast and live in the NYC suburbs that write The Suburban Survival Blog to talk about preparedness and self-reliance out there to help others prepare for what could be an uncertain future due to economic, weather, and other reasons.