Getting Out From Under All The Paper - Part I

Buried with paper? Don't know what to keep and what to throw away? Some tips to help get you out from under all that paper.

What papers do I really need to keep?  I get this question all the time.  The easy answer is not much.  These days with everything online and even the IRS accepting scanned documents, let it go.

Things you absolutely should keep permanently:  Birth and death certificates,  marriage licenses, divorce decrees, social security cards and military discharge papers..  Keep wills, trusts and powers of attorney and health care proxies.  Keep life insurance policies, those that have cash value or an investment component.  If you have a term life policy, keep it until the term expires, then toss it.  All these documents  should be kept in a safe deposit box  Keep pension plan documents from your current and former employers, these can be kept in a file cabinet.

Keep a copy of any medical records of immunizations, hospitalizations and prescriptions and any laboratory test you had done.  You don’t need to keep the Explanation of  Benefits forms most insurance companies send out unless there is a dispute of the bill.

Keep all immigration records, they are extremely important,  you may need them to register to vote.

Keep your income tax returns and all documents that backup your deductions for seven years.  The IRS has the right to go back seven years, they typically don’t have the manpower to go further than three, but better to be safe than sorry.

Watch for Part II of Getting Out From Under All The Paper

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Catherine Valega, CFP, CAIA February 16, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Great article, Anne! For those interested, I developed a 'grab and go' financial document organizer that is available upon request. I included this in a presentation I did for the Jenks Center -- we also talked about Identity Theft. Both pieces are available upon request. OR, if you belong to an organization that could benefit from hearing the presentation live, please contact me to set it up. I'm thinking that schools should constantly be talking to the kids about ID theft - especially in light of this whole facebook friend/extortion incident at BC High.


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