Emergencies happen. When they do, having your financial papers in order can save you money, time and anxiety in an already stressful situation.

The first step is to gather all your financial information and place it in a convenient, safe, easily accessible place in your home. If you have to leave in a hurry, you want to know exactly where the information is so you can grab it on the run. You will also want to make a back-up copy of everything to keep outside your home, in a safe deposit box or other safe location, in case everything inside your home gets destroyed.

Here are the things you need:

Identification: You should gather all of your own and your family's identification papers. This includes Social Security cards, birth certificates and passports for each member of the household, as well as your marriage certificate. In addition, you should have a photo of each person taken within the past year in the event that the family becomes separated and identification photos are needed.

If you usually carry identification with you such as your driver's license, make a copy of it and place it with the other material. Having all your identifying material available after an emergency will make proving who you are much easier -- which means that getting any aid available will take less time and be much less of a chore.

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