RECORDS TO KEEP
I. Records to Keep at Home
1.Account books: Record income and expenditures for reference and comparison. Useful to determine net worth.
2.Death records: A copy of your “Living Will.” Location of burial plot, where deed is kept, arrangements for care of lot. Any final instructions with regard to your funeral, donating organs for transplant or other personal requests. Date and place of death of family members, where buried.
3. Education and employment: Keep on file all permits, licenses, proficiency certificates, resumes, information on union membership and names of past employers. You need this when seeking employment. Evidence of qualification for certain work. Evidence of reliability and tenure. Used to determine retirement benefits.
4. Employee benefits: Keep company booklet explaining your benefits in a current file.
5. Financial advisors: List of names, addresses and telephone numbers including your banker, broker, lawyer, accountant, insurance and real-estate agents and the employee-benefits counselor at work.
6. Guarantees and warranties: File for proof of date of purchase; to determine service and parts guaranteed. Keep until no longer valid.
7. Health records: For each family member: record of immunizations, blood type, dates of major illness, surgery, hospitalizations, check-ups, and physicians, having record of each.
8. Instruction manuals: Keep instructions on how to operate appliances and other products, and where they can be repaired. Discard when out of date.
9.Insurance policies (property, automobile, boat, homeowners): Keep current policies in your file box or fireproof strong box. Keep old policies in permanent files. If a claim for an old injury that occurred on your property is filed against you, you may need proof of earlier coverage.
10. Insurance policies (life): Keep policy, along with any change of beneficiary, correspondence with company and proof of ownership if you transfer policy to someone else.
11. Insurance policies (health, accident and disability): Keep policy and information booklet that tells you to what extent you are insured.
12. Mortgage and credit information: Keep a list of debt information such as to whom money is owed, how much is owed, and how much has been paid (history and record of payments).
13. Keys: To reduce frustration of lost keys, put extra keys in labeled, sealed envelopes inside file folder.
14. Master list of important information: Enter all of your important documents, the identifying number and where they can be found. Include all family, property, financial, and tax records. Also include where safe deposit key is located.
15. Tax records: Keep tax returns, proof of income received, and receipts of canceled checks necessary to substantiate tax deductions for at least six years from due date of return.
16. Bank records: Keep all bank statements, canceled checks, passbook and correspondence in your current files for current year. Keep all old check stubs and bank statements, passbooks, and canceled checks in your permanent files.
17. Business expenses: If you are eligible to claim business expenses, you need a diary to substantiate deductions. Enter expenses daily in a diary and attach receipts.
18. Casualty and theft losses: Keep record of casualty and theft losses due to vandalism, fire, storm, flood, accidents or similar causes.
19. Credit cards, mortgage loans, installment purchases, charge accounts: Keep in current file. Statements to tell how much you owe, if payments are properly credited and amount of interest paid. Keep list of company name, address, phone number, and account number for each credit card.
20.Employee education expenses: You may deduct ordinary and necessary expenses if the education required by your employer, law or regulations, for keeping your salary, status or job if the requirements are for a business purpose. You can deduct the cost if it will maintain or improve your skills required to do your present work.
21. Gifts: Keep receipts for tax-deductible charitable contributions in your current file. You may deduct non-reimbursed out-of-pocket expenses incurred as result of charitable activity.
22. Medical and dental expenses: Keep receipts for medical expenses in current file to prove any deductions you may be eligible to claim.
23. Rental property: Keep complete records of all expenses and current income from rental property in current files. Keep records of previous years in permanent files.
24. Safe deposit box rent: This is tax deductible if you use this box to store taxable income producing stocks, bonds or investment-related papers and documents.
25. Sales receipts: To monitor energy consumption, receipts for expensive items in permanent file, to verify charge account billings, to return items to the store, to prove those expensive items, to file insurance claims or tax losses.
II. Records to Keep in a Safe Deposit Box
1. Adoption papers: Needed for social security, inheritance, veteran’s federal pension compensation and other benefits.
2. Automobile title (truck, motorcycle, etc.): Evidence of ownership, essential for transfer to new owner when car is sold.
3. Automobile bill of sale: Contains motor number, serial number, and other important information if auto is stolen or if you use it as collateral for a loan.
4. Birth certificate: A copy may be kept at home. Needed to prove age and citizenship.
5. Church records: Baptismal and confirmation certificates. Acceptable evidence of birth date when obtaining a delayed birth certificate.
6. Citizenship papers: Needed to obtain certain types of jobs, passports, and prove eligibility to vote.
7. Passports: If your passport has expired, keep it anyway. It will help you get a new one.
8. Contracts, notes and debts: Evidence of what you owe or what is owed to you. When a debt is repaid, cancel note immediately so heirs will not try to collect or pay.
9.Copyrights and Patents: Proof of ownership of rights.
10. Custody papers: To prove legal guardianship of children.
11. Death certificates: Needed for identification to receive social security, veteran, pension and insurance benefits.
12. Divorce records: To clear legal requirements for remarriage.
13. Gift records: Keep records of substantial gifts to others (cash, property, art, cars, jewels).
14. Social Security Card: Keep copy of card or number from card.
15. Government savings bonds: Keep written record at home of issuing date, complete serial number, denomination, co-owner (if any), and (after redemption) amount received. Needed for: (1) income tax; (2) gift tax report if you give it away; (3) ease of replacement in case of loss.
16. Household inventory: Need in case of fire, theft, storm or flood to prove to insurance company exactly what you had. Makes it easier to recover losses, for determining net worth, when determining insurance needs, applying for loans, settling divorce, applying for adoption or planning financial future.
17. Investments: Keep a list of savings accounts, stocks, bonds, real estate and other investments along with location and numbers at home. Keep investments, including stocks and bonds certificates, in your safe deposit box, records of when they were bought and sold, at what price, and commission paid. Needed for estate and income tax purposes.
18. List of insurance companies, policy numbers, name of each insured and agents: Company can easily replace Policy, but all information concerning policy is vitally important.
19. Marriage records: For proof of marriage, to obtain driver’s license (if female changes last name to spouse’s name), to collect insurance, collect social security, and settle estate.
20. Military service records: Records you need to keep to qualify for veteran’s benefits include: medical treatment or disability papers and all documents connected with the GI Bill for education.
21. Real estate papers: Abstract for when property is sold to prove clear title. Deeds, mortgages, title, property insurance policy, receipts for payments on mortgage, records of improvements, gross sale price, depreciation, legal fees, and expense of sale. Needed for income tax and estate tax purposes.
22. Retirement records: Needed to collect benefits. Keep notes on pension or profit sharing money you have. Keep IRA or Keogh documents and information on where assets are invested.
23. Wills and trust documents: Keep original in safe deposit box. Keep a copy in strong box at home. Essential for most satisfactory settlement of estate. Leave a copy with the attorney who drew it up or with executor.
24.Copies of computer files: Make back-up copies of important files. Use a security code. Inform those whom you trust how to access these files in case of accident or death.