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Your Home Environment Resource - University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Household Hints & HELP!

Important Papers: Keep or Toss?

submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appears in the March 4, 2007 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

It is the time of year when families are thinking, organizing, cleaning and sorting through the many papers and records needed for taxes. The big questions: What do I keep? How and where should I store important papers? No matter what point in life you are at, there are personal and financial records you need to keep.

Most records and papers are kept at home so they are easy to access when needed. Legal documents or papers hard to replace should be stored in a safe-deposit box.

Records to Keep How Long to Keep
Employment permanently, keep updated
Insurance Policies
Auto, Property, Health, Personal, Life
currently owned
Health Records permanently, keep updated
Property Records
Abstracts for Real Estate
Burial Lot Deed
Deed and Mortgages
Household Inventory
Automobile Titles, Guarantees, Warranties,
Instruction Books

permanently, keep updated...keep a copy at home and one in safe deposit box

currently owned, keep until item is sold or discarded

Financial Records
Credit Cards
Cancelled Checks
Bank Statements
Account Book
Savings Passbook or Statements
Tax Return
permanently, keep updated
keep list of name and address of companies
at least 5 years for tax purposes
as needed for proof of income tax
indefinitely
currently owned only
keep copies of all federal, state & local tax returns
Legal Records
Living Will
Will
Durable Power of Attorney
keep copies at home and in safe deposit box
Family Records
Adoption Papers, Baptism & Confirmation
Certificates, Citizenship Papers, Copyrights
& Patents, Death Certificates, Marriage
Dissolution Papers, Education Diplomas,
Transcripts & Certificates, Marriage
Certificates, Military Service Discharge
Papers, Social Security Cards, Passports, etc
kept indefinitely ... keep in a safe deposit box or safe

It is important to keep lists of doctors, lawyers and financial advisors filed in an easy to find spot.

As you go through your papers and information, take time to file them correctly so the information you need will be accessible when the need arises.

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