ScanSnap: Helping Tame the Paper Storm
Both of my parents passed away within the last three years. My father saved, I think, every piece of paper he ever got. There were five file cabinets filled with everything from memorabilia and research information on a myriad of topics, to tax returns to business documents, to bank statements, to receipts. I knew, as trustee and daughter that I had to do something. I could not take home file cabinets filled with documents. I knew I could probably throw away a few file cabinets worth, but frankly, I was nervous. I had no idea how I was going to deal with all the papers, and many of them I knew were really important.
As I tried to think about how to deal with this paper storm, I remembered my accountant who scans everything. When I go in to do my taxes, I watch him put piles of different sized papers in his scanner and within seconds they are scanned in and he hands me back my originals. I had never used a scanner but wondered if that would be an option for me. I called and talked to him and his secretary and started to search for a ScanSnap immediately. I ordered it overnight because I wanted to get started quickly. I had two weeks to go through every piece of paper that my sisters and I had not thrown away (about 2 1/2 file cabinets filled left), turn them into PDFs and call the shredding company (they wound up shredding over 400 pounds of documents).
I now have 2,472 documents in Mom and Dad’s Electronic Filing Cabinet. Most of these I may never need, but if I do I have them organized as if they were in a paper file cabinet and can find whatever I want. I wound up taking home less than one banker’s box of documents – deeds and important original contracts and such that I thought were important to keep. I also had all of my parents’ photos, and when I realized that I could scan in photographs I really had a party. I scanned in all the photos (many hundreds) that I thought others would want and will be distributing discs of photos to family members when I have the time to sort them further!
I then decided that the trust should buy my sisters scanners because we are all paper monsters, and so I did that. So far I’ve spent time with one sister helping her get started with her de-papering process which I hear is still going well.
But that is not even the best part of this story. When I got home, I decided to go through my own documents. To date I have scanned in nearly 2,000 of my own documents, shredding many many pounds of paper, AND while I was going through figuring out which documents to scan, which I needed to keep in paper form (and by the way, I even scan them in so I have everything electronic), and which could be tossed, I found out that my home, which I had refinanced five years ago, had NOT been put back into my trust! So thanks to my ScanSnap, if something happens to me, my estate will be in order and my daughter will not have to go through the lovely process of probate trying to prove that my intent was to put my house into the trust!
By the way, my parent’s banker loves me because every time she asks if I have something, I find it electronically and e-mail it over to her – she’s amazed at how organized and efficient I am and I love to hear that because that’s never been something I’ve been praised for before.
My life is so much neater and easier and more organized because of my ScanSnap. It is now, and I believe will ALWAYS be, one of my most prized possessions!
Everybody ScanSnap Entry – $3,000 Prize Winning Submission