We all deal with various documents in our lifetime – most of our daily transactions result in one or more. Document storage is key, because while it’s a good practice to keep these handy in case need for it arises, not all documents are created equal. There are plenty of documents that will always be essential, and there are some that lose value over time…but which is which?
Why Is It Important to Keep Some Documents?
Should you pass away, it is crucial to have kept certain documents because the probate court may request them after your death. Maintaining important documents will help your family close your estate.
Other reasons to hold on to paperwork depend on your situation. For example, some people find themselves a party to a lawsuit. If that happens to you, you may need to produce documents, and it will be much easier if you can readily access the important ones.
However, it is hard to know what documents to trash and when. Before you know it, your spare room, office, basement, or garage is overflowing with boxes of papers that all seem important. Trying to weed through the mess and figure out what to toss? Keep reading.
Which Documents Should I Keep?
There are some documents that you will want to hang on to forever and some that you should keep for a few years. Below are some examples of the types of documents in each category:
Documents You Should Always Have
The following documents should always be available, and you should properly store them to ensure you can grab them when you need them:
- Birth certificates
- Death certificates
- Marriage license
- Divorce Decrees
- Social Security card (Lost yours? Now you can request a replacement online.)
- Your current insurance policies (life, health, etc.)
- The newest version of your Estate Planning documents
Documents You Should Only Keep Temporarily
Some documents lose importance as time goes by. However, it would help if you hung on to the following documents for a few years (typically, between five and seven years):
- Papers related to charitable donations
- Tax returns
- Credit card statements
- Cancelled checks
- Bank statements
Digital Storage As An Alternative Means Of Storing Documents
Digitally storing your documents can significantly cut down on the clutter. But before you start digitizing your essential documents, you want to have a plan.
- Sit down, look at all your documents, and determine whether they are necessary. Use a critical eye as you decide what to keep.
- The next step is scanning each document into your computer, on to an external hard drive, or on a flash drive.
- Consider password-protecting your sensitive information.
- Keep up-to-date with current technology. As technology advances, make sure that you advance with it. The last thing you want is to be unable to open your files.
NOTE: Always encrypt or password-protect your information. It is the best way to protect yourself against hackers and identity thieves.
In the process of getting your documents and affairs in order? Create a comprehensive Estate Plan with a trusted Estate Planning attorney today! Schedule an appointment with The Law Office Of Antoinette Bone and put a plan in place that protects your family, your wealth, and your legacy.
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