July 27, 2009

Preparing Your Financial Records

Having your financial records organized is important for a variety of reasons. They are a key to getting your life back to normal after a hurricane, fire, tornado or theft. Having a record of what you lost will be helpful in settling insurance claims and documenting losses for tax purposes. An organized system can help in settling an estate, obtaining insurance or benefit claims and reducing some stress for loved ones in case of death. These records can indicate the monetary value of your belongings for a net worth statement, and provide proof of ownership in the case of separation or divorce.

Setting up a recordkeeping system includes:
  • Gathering and organizing financial information
  • Deciding where each type of record should be kept
  • Reviewing and discarding unneeded records
Organize Financial Information
Begin by locating documents and related information such as phone and account numbers. Categories include:

Personal papers such as birth, marriage and death certificates, divorce decrees, adoption papers, passports, citizenship papers, military service records

Automobile and other titles

Certificates of deposit or bank savings certificates

List of insurance policies and their numbers

Property records title and deeds

Records of home improvements

Legal papers, leases and contracts

Copy of household goods inventory with photos or video

Names and addresses of your financial advisors and financial institutions

Copy of financial plans, net worth statements

List of checking and savings accounts by financial institution

Papers pertaining to valuable property such as jewelry, silverware

Decide Where to Store Your Financial Records
Financial records can be kept either in a home file or in a safe-deposit box at a financial institution. A home file can be used to store active records and those of limited value. If you have records that would be difficult to replace, store those in a safe-deposit box. Review personal financial information annually and make adjustments when there are major changes such as marriage, divorce, or death of a family member.

Select a convenient place such as a home office area to keep important household financial documents. Using a file cabinet that is fire and water resistant is a good idea. Or you can simply use an inexpensive cardboard box that holds file folders. Keep records handy, where they can be accessed easily. Store duplicates of important household papers in a safe place outside of your home. Your personal information can be entered into the Record of Important Papers and saved on your computer hard drive as well.

At least one other person should know where all important records are kept and how they are organized, so that in an emergency that person can locate information quickly.

Review and Discard Unneeded Records
Knowing how long to keep documents is important. Review your immediate and long term files annually. If you are disposing of any items, be sure to shred any sensitive documents, especially those with account numbers, Social Security, and/or date of birth information. For information on how long to keep records refer to the following publication.

For more information on this topic refer to these University of Florida publications.

No comments:

Post a Comment