- How should I take care of legal documents?
- January 3, 2014
A life insurance policy can take care of those you leave behind – but only if they have access to it.
A report by the New York Times details the appropriate measures that individuals should take in order to protect their documents. The Internal Revenue Service may request forms relating to income and deductions for at least three years after an accurate tax rebate. Those who commit fraud or evasion may be forced to produce documents from a much longer period of time.
There are other forms that should never be thrown out. Bankruptcy and legal filings may help consumers with future financial issues, while inheritance, wills and insurance information will be useful after their death. These can also be misused if they fall into the wrong hands.
“If you want to keep documents in electronic form, most banks or brokerages let you retrieve printable PDF or HTML forms of statements and other records that you can save to your storage drive,” the report says. “You can also scan other documents to electronic form.”
Keep ATM receipts and bank statements until monthly accounts have been reconciled. You should keep statements until tax time in case questions arise and then shred any information that displays account numbers.
Credit card bills do not have to be kept until payment is made or if your credit card is used in providing a charitable donation. Again, file away for tax season.
Investment statements each month do not have to be filed though annual statements should be filed.
As for insurance, keep your paperwork for as long as you have the policy and keep documentation for any unresolved claims of coverage. For health insurance, keep any records (explanation-of-benefit forms, receipts and invoices) covering treatments that are in progress. It may be a good idea to keep health insurance receipts for a year to be able in case any problems do arise.
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