Document Locator System: A Handy Aid For Keeping Track of Your Records

Are you able to locate insurance contracts, wills, and other important personal records quickly and easily? With this simple document locator system, you no longer need to wonder where to file a paper or where to find it.

The Document Locator System

Most people have no idea where to start searching for their important records. They usually keep them scattered in various locations – tax records in a file cabinet, savings bonds in a home safe, wills at an attorney’s office, some contracts or deeds in a bank safe deposit box.

There’s a reason many people do not have an organized recordkeeping system: Organizing your records is stressful and confusing.

The Document Locator System is effective because it takes away that stress and confusion. This simple recordkeeping system provides an easy way to keep track of your important personal (not business) records, keeping them organized and available. You will not miss out on a tax deduction because you did not keep the necessary receipt. More importantly, the document locator system will help a spouse or executor locate your documents in case of death or disability.

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Set Up Tabbed Sections

Set up tabbed sections in your files with the following captions (customizing sections as appropriate to your particular situation):

  1. Banking
  2. Children
  3. Credit and Loans
  4. Employment
  5. Estate Planning [including wills and post-mortem matters]
  6. Important Personal
  7. Insurance
  8. Investments
  9. Major Assets
  10. Professional Residences
  11. Tax Records
  12. Vehicles [including boats]

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File the Documents

File the documents and other records listed in Column 1 in the file sections recommended in Column 2 of the Document Locator. Where the original or a copy is filed elsewhere, note this location in Column 3 of the Document Locator. You can also use Column 3 for any notes regarding the document (such as Passport – “Renew by October 12, 2022” or IRA – “Take first distribution by December 31, 2022”). Where your filing system suggests a file section other than that recommended in Column 2, just substitute your location for the recommended one. For items other than those named here, use the blank spaces at the end of the Locator.

This Document Locator is shown at the end of this Financial Guide.

Tip: Put a photocopy of the Document Locator, which will contain the locations of all your important documents, in a fireproof safe or safe deposit box.

Tip: In addition to the Document Locator System, prepare a post-mortem letter to a spouse or executor. This is also an essential part of helping your heirs and family members get your affairs in order in the event of death or disability. The purpose of such a letter is to provide them with the information needed to locate records or assets. This will prevent erosion of your estate by unnecessary taxes, unfounded claims, or just plain loss of assets.

The key is to develop and follow some type of recordkeeping system, not necessarily the one recommended here. If you have any questions, contact your financial advisor.

Tip: Cull your records every so often. By getting rid of the papers you no longer need, you minimize the ever-encroaching mountains of paper we all have to handle.

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Documents You Should Be Able To Locate Easily

Certain documents, records, and other information should be easily locatable in an emergency. These include (1) your personal records, (2) a list of your assets, (3) your estate planning records, and (4) your financial records.

Personal Records

  • Birth certificates of family members
  • Death certificates of deceased family members
  • Marriage license
  • Divorce decree and custody agreement (if divorced)
  • Passports (updated)
  • Social Security numbers for family members
  • The names and addresses of family members, close relatives, and any persons mentioned in a will
  • Military records
  • List of previous employers
  • List of government employers
  • Medical records and health insurance cards for family members

In most cases, the reason these documents are needed is self-explanatory.

List of Your Assets

  • Description of all major assets that you own separately or jointly with your spouse or other person, together with the approximate values and location of deeds, titles, stock certificates, or other evidence of ownership.

Note: Include cash, realty, investments, IRAs, retirement plan benefits, life insurance policies, interests in partnerships or other business entities, jewelry and other luxury items, automobiles, boats, antiques, coin collections, collectibles, art objects, and debts owed to you by others.

  • Appraisals of valuable items
  • Description of the approximate amounts of pension, military, and/or other benefits you or your spouse may be entitled to on retirement or death
  • Insurance policies (including group life, individual life, health, casualty, auto, etc.) and identity and phone numbers of insurance agents

Estate Planning Records

  • The whereabouts of your will and codicils, along with the name and address of the attorney who prepared them
  • Title to cemetery plot or other burial arrangement
  • Post-mortem letter to spouse or family members, to be opened after your death
  • Living will or other directions in case of disability

Financial and Other Records

  • Location of all safe deposit boxes, keys, and passwords
  • Important canceled checks
  • The names and addresses of your CPA, attorney, and any other professionals concerned with your financial affairs
  • Photographic or video record of house and its contents (for homeowners’ insurance purposes)
  • One statement for each bank account, IRA, mutual fund, broker, or other account you own, along with the name and telephone number of the primary banker, broker, or other contact person for each account
  • Brokers’ confirmation slips for purchases
  • A statement or other reference for any bank account that is not in your name
  • One statement or payment stub for each credit card, line of credit, or outstanding loan
  • Income tax returns for at least six prior years (including all supporting records for the past six years), and all prior gift tax returns
  • Records showing the original cost of any realty owned, cost of all improvements that can be added to tax basis, and depreciation taken (for business or rental property)
  • Bills of sale or receipts for major items
  • Equipment and appliance manuals and warranty information

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Where to File What

Document Locator
DOCUMENT WHERE TO FILE OTHER LOCATION/NOTES
Accident reports Insurance
Adoption records Important Personal and/or Children
Accountant Professionals
Address book Important Personal
Alimony records Tax Records
Apartment – records for Residences
Annuity Investments
Antiques Major Assets
Appliances – receipts, warranties, and contracts for Major Assets
Appraisals of assets Major Assets
Assets – list of Major Assets
Attorney Professionals and/or Estate Planning
Auto insurance Vehicles and/or Insurance
Auto loans Credit and Loans
Auto mileage logs Tax Records
Automobile title Vehicles
Bank account statements Banking
Bills of sale Major Assets
Birth certificates Important Personal and/or Children
Boat insurance Insurance
Boat records Vehicles
Broker account statements Investments
Business interests Investments
Canceled checks – general Banking
Canceled checks – insurance Insurance
Canceled checks – tax related Tax Records
Casualty loss records Insurance
CD Banking and/or Investments
Cemetery plot Estate Planning
Charitable gifts Tax Records
Checking account statements Banking
Child support papers Important Personal and/or Children
Claims – insurance Insurance
Coin collection Major Assets
Collections Major Assets
Confirmation slips – from broker Investments
CPA Professionals
Credit cards – list of Credit and Loans
Credit card statements Credit and Loans
Credit report – from credit reporting agency Credit and Loans
Credit union papers Banking and/or Credit and Loans
Custody agreement Important Personal and/or Children
Day care records Children
Death benefits Employment
Death certificate Important Personal
Debts owed to you Investments
Debts you owe Credit and Loans
Deeds to homes Residences
Disability insurance Insurance
Dividends – records of Investments
Divorce decree Important Personal
Doctors Professionals
Dues – professional or union Tax Records
Employee benefits – description of Employment
Employers – list of Employment
Equipment – business use of Tax Records
Equipment – warranties for Major Assets
Expenses Tax Records
Fees – deductible Tax Records
Financial statement – your personal Credit and Loans
Forms – tax Tax Records
Funeral arrangements Estate Planning
Furs Major Assets
Gifts – taxable Tax Records
Government employers – list of Employment
Health insurance Insurance
Home – contents of, photographic records Insurance
Home office Tax Records
Home improvements Residences
Inherited property – record of basis Residences
Insurance policies Insurance
Interest – record of Residences and/or Tax Records
IRA Banking
Jewelry Major Assets
K-1 Forms Tax Records
Safe deposit box keys Banking
Lawyers Professionals and/or Estate Planning
Lease – home Residences
License – driver’s Vehicles
Life insurance policies Insurance
Limited partnership documents Investments
List of assets Major Assets
List of automobiles Vehicles
List of bank accounts Banking
List of brokerage accounts Investments
List of children’s schools Children
List of credit cards Credit and Loans
List of debts Credit and Loans
List of employers – government and private Employers
List of home improvements Residences
List of life insurance policies Insurance
List of safe deposit boxes Banking
Living will Important Personal
Loans – list of Credit and Loans
Maintenance of appliances Major Assets
Marriage certificate Important Personal
Medical expenses Tax Records
Medical professionals Professionals
Mileage logs – expenses Tax Records
Military discharge Important Personal
Military employers Employment
Mortgage note Residences
Mortgage payments and yearly statement Residence and/or Tax Records
Moving expense Tax Records
Mutual funds Investments
Naturalization papers Important Personal
Owner’s manuals Vehicles and/or Major Assets
Partnership statements Tax Records
Passports Important Personal
Paycheck stubs Employment
Pets Important Personal
Pension benefits – description Employment
Photos of family members Important Personal
Photos of home contents Insurance
Properties owned – list of Residences
Property damage – records Insurance
Prospectuses Investments
Real estate owned Residences
Real estate taxes Residences and/or Tax Records
Registration Vehicles
Rent – records of Residences
Residence closing – records of Residences
Retirement accounts Investments
Safe deposit boxes Banking
Savings accounts Banking
Schools – list of Children
Service – military Employment and/or Important Personal
Social Security numbers Important Personal
Stock certificates Investments
Survivors’ benefits-descriptions Employment
Tax returns and forms Tax Records
Traffic tickets Vehicles
Titles to vehicles Vehicles
Travel expenses Tax Records
Trust documents Estate Planning
Unemployment compensation Employment
Vacation home Residences
W-2 forms Tax Records
Warranties Major Assets
Wills Estate Planning

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Also See…

Recordkeeping For Your Taxes: Frequently Asked Questions
Cash Flow – The Pulse of Your Business
Travel and Entertainment: Maximizing the Tax Benefits
Travel and Entertainment: Frequently Asked Questions
Employee Benefits: Frequently Asked Questions
The Home-Based Business: Some Basics You Should Consider
Financial Planning Tips For Business Owners
The “SIMPLE” Plan: A Retirement Plan for the Really Small Business
Small Business: Frequently Asked Questions
Financing Questions: Frequently Asked Questions
How many units do I need to sell to breakeven?
What are my business financial ratios?

 

Hardge Connections, LLC
46 Gramatan Avenue #176
Mount Vernon, NY 10550
khardge@hardgeconnections.com

 

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