Clients entrust lawyers with a variety of documents and some need to be kept in a high quality security safe.
Most of the time it is clear when a document that comes from a client is important. Perhaps it is an important piece of a legal argument or maybe it is just generally involves some important information. However, what may not be clear is that many documents are so important that they should be kept in a high security safe instead of a simple filing cabinet.
When in doubt, ask yourself what would happen if a particular document were stolen, lost or destroyed. If the consequences would be serious, the item should be kept in a safe. There are several papers and files that should be safeguarded but here are some of the most important ones:
- Documents with identity information like National Insurance numbers
- Any document that proves the participation in a transaction or purchase
- Tax forms, receipts and pay stubs
- Wills and powers of attorney
- Client records like medical and financial
National Insurance Numbers
Anything with a national security number on it should be kept in a safe. If a client entrusts you with a document that has this or any other type identifying information on it, you should place it in a safe. A stolen NIN can lead to fraud and identity theft. This includes licenses, birth certificates and foreign visas.
Proof of Purchase or Transactions
There is often litigation surrounding transactions or purchases. If your case involves a transaction or an argument about money, you may have receipts and bills to look after. Anything that proves that a transaction occurred is an important item to keep securely filed away in a safe or a security cabinet. This includes deeds, bills, pay checks, investment records and insurance records.
In the same way, you should keep track of anything that proves a transaction with the government. Tax forms are important to keep safe because mistakes and misfiling can routinely happen with governmental paperwork. If you have the proof to back up a claim that the government has no record of, it can make a big difference for your client.
Will and Testament
Clients often ask lawyers to hold onto their wills for safe keeping and these should, of course, be filled away in a secure location. A death is already a trying time for family members; if you have trouble locating a will or if it is damaged that will create more stress and turmoil. A will is also something valuable that many dishonest people would want to get their hands on if given the chance. Keeping one in a fire resistant security safe is the safest place for it. This also applies to powers of attorney and life and health insurance policies.
Medical and financial records are not only an important part of persons documented life but they are also very private and may lead to embarrassment if revealed. If for some reason you are keeping any such records, make sure they are securely locked in a safe.