Retaining important documents and keeping them together in a safe place is important for a number of reasons. A few examples include:
1. If the IRS audits you, all of your tax records and receipts for the past 6 years will be readily available.
2. If you go to sell your automobile, RV, boat, or even your house, the titles or deeds will be easy to find.
3. In case of a medical emergency or death, your will, living will, power of attorney, and other important medical and legal information will be available to family members and health care providers.
You should keep your important papers in a central place, preferably a fireproof, tamper-resistant, and bolted down safe. A safety deposit box at a bank is also an option. What papers should you have? Read on to find out.
• Home owner’s insurance
• Renter’s insurance
• Life insurance
• Health benefits insurance
• Other insurance, such as flood and automobile
Having your insurance policies in a safe place is beneficial in case you need to make a claim. Don’t rely on the insurance company to keep track of your policy. Protect yourself by keeping your own records and knowing what your policies say.
Medical & Legal
• Living Will
• Power of attorney
• Master list of your physicians and their phone numbers
• List of medications you’re allergic to
• In case of emergency numbers
• Marriage certificate; divorce papers
• Adoption paperwork
• Citizenship proof
• Important contracts
• Any lawsuit settlement papers
Your Living Will should be readily accessible, especially if it contains a Do-Not-Resuscitate order. Keep a copy in your safe, but also have one near your front door, on the fridge, or in another easy to find place. A master list of your health care providers, along with their phone numbers, and your emergency numbers, should be placed together with your Living Will.
• Tax returns
• Stock certificates or brokerage statements
• 401, IRA, and other retirement info
• Credit report
• Bankruptcy records
• A list of all bank accounts, credit card accounts, and other financial assets or debts
• Net worth statement
• Check stubs
Tax returns for the past 7 years should be retained in case of IRS audits. A list of all bank accounts, credit card statements, and all other assets and debts is helpful if you need to borrow money from a bank or other party, as they will want to know if you are a good risk. It is also helpful for whomever inherits your estate. Keeping check stubs is a good idea if your retirement benefits are calculated via the number of hours you’ve worked in a lifetime.
• Property deeds
• Mortgage agreements
• Personal property inventory sheet and receipts
A record of your personal property is helpful in case a fire, flood, theft, or other disaster ruins your belongings. Keep all receipts, and if possible, photo documentation.
• Social security card
• Birth certificate
• Other forms of identification?
• Titles to automobiles, RVS, boats, etc.