Do you have these important financial documents

Spring is in the air and that means it’s time for spring cleaning. In addition to cleaning your house, you should also take this opportunity to get your financial paperwork in order. Keeping sufficient records and updated copies of important paperwork is vital to your financial wellbeing. In the event of an emergency, having important papers organized is just as important as having an emergency savings fund.

The first thing you must do is gather original copies of your important documents. If it is not possible to obtain an original copy of a document, get a certified copy. Keep important financial papers in a safe, yet easily accessible place or move documents online.  The following information can help you determine what to keep and what to toss.

Retirement planning documents – Documents pertaining to IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or TSA statements should be kept in a secure location, such as a safe deposit box. Keep the annual summaries until you retire or close the account.

Tax planning documents – According to the Internal Revenue Service you should keep your individual tax return documents for seven years. You may also want to save W-2s. Paycheck stubs can be shredded once they are checked against your W-2.

Financial documents – Checking and savings accounts, bank and credit card statements, and bank information are important paperwork to have, but should be kept in a secure location. Bills for big purchases, such as furniture, computers, etc. should be kept in an insurance file for proof of their value in the event of loss or damage. Any unneeded financial statements should be properly disposed to avoid identity fraud.

Asset protection documents - In the event of an emergency, you’ll want to make sure your tangible assets are protected as well as your most valuable asset—yourself. Make sure you have updated, accurate records of medical, home, and life insurance policies and statements. Documents pertaining to buying, selling, or improving your home should be kept as long as you own the home.

Estate planning documents – It’s important to have a copy of any wills and power of attorneys. These are documents that your attorney should also have on file.

Finally, shuffling through a pile of paperwork is a daunting task. But it is well worth it to make sure documents are properly filed and stored. Getting your financial house in order now will ensure peace of mind down the road. For more information on how to clear out financial clutter visit Financial Literacy Month.

Renee McGruder is a former communications coordinator and grant writer at MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.