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Saving the Right Financial Papers

written by: wearmanyhats•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 6/29/2011

Most people know they should save three to seven years worth of tax papers. Here are other financial papers that you need to save.

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    All about the house

    1. The former utility bill: If you move, you may need at least one copy of the utility bill from your former residence to show that you pay your bills on time.

    2. A copy of your old mortgage bill: This is especially useful in securing old escrow accounts, can be used to show future landlords or loan officers, or any other potential creditor. Finally, unclaimed property laws very state to state. Old bills such as these can prove you used to reside where you say you did.

    3. Bills for major upgrades: Sometimes tax preparers and clients don't ask the right questions of each other. Corrections on tax returns need proof, especially energy efficient upgrades to the building. Keep as many of these receipts as possilbe.

    4. Closing documents:It is said that while you are alive, you should never get rid of closing documents for any home you purchase. The reasons can include lawsuits concerning handyman type upgrades and disputes over disclosures or property lines.

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    Money Paperwork

    Besides the tax paperwork, there are other money related paperwork that you should keep:

    1) End of the year financial statements for brokerage accounts: Rather than keeping hundreds of documents, an end of the year statement can prove quite useful for tax preparation years down the road.

    2. Special transitional paperwork: A great example is if you converted your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. The documents may be handy for your accountant in the future. This is also true if you roll over a retirement account into an IRA, or move a 401k from one financial institution to another.

    3. Any evidence of large gifts of money: This relates primarily to the elderly who have given away money to their children, then had to use state financial assistance. Keeping good records will be helpful when the state looks to collect their money back from the heirs.

     

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    Other important papers

    1) Military discharge and commendations: The DD214 is the most important of these documents for obtaining job preference, VA medical benefits, and ultimately, death benefits. Commendations should be kept in case someone ever questions your military service record. Saving those records will save countless hours and dollars trying to get copies from the military.

    2) College degrees, records, and national test results: If your alma mater's computers ate your records, your copies will help restore the data. These records are useful when filling out late night job applications. Keepsealed envelopes of your GMAT scores, for example, if you wish to pursue a master's degree.

    3) Birth certificate, social security card, passport, and old military ID cards: These should be kept in a fireproof safe. Although copies of these documents can bo obtained, most are used so frequently that it just makes sense to keep them nearby.

    4) Insurance papers: All current insurance policies need to be kept, as do agreements for underage car accident victims. Often when a child turns eighteen, insurance companies need to have the young adult sign off on any previous accident claims. It is wise to have the original agreement.