Which Papers to Keep

Personal Finance April 11, 2008 Print Friendly and PDF

Important household papers include family, property, financial, and legal papers that legitimize and protect you, your family, and your estate. They document identification, ownership, legal and financial status, employment, education, and family history.

Take an inventory of your important household papers, which may include:

Adoption papers
Advisers and contacts lists
Baptism and confirmation records
Birth certificates
Business ownership papers
Citizenship and naturalization papers
Credit card information
Death certificates
Debts owed and those to be collected
Divorce papers
Easement papers
Educational records
Employment records and identity cards
Family history
Financial accounts
Funeral and burial plans and records
Household property inventory
Income and expense records
Insurance policies
Investment records and pension plans
Marriage certificates
Medical records
Memberships and subscriptions
Military records
Net worth statements
Passports
Patents and copyrights
Powers of attorney
Property appraisals, deeds, and titles
Safe-deposit box inventory
Social Security cards and numbers
Tax records
Veterinary records
Warranties, guarantees, and owner manuals
Wills and trusts

Knowing what you already have can help you decide which important papers you will need to start organizing and/or updating. For your convenience, fill out the Record of Important Papers interactive form (available in rtf format) and save it to your computer's hard drive. Be sure to update the information at least once a year.

Keeping a list of important household papers can save you time and give you the peace of mind of knowing that you're prepared. Properly completed and kept current, your Record of Important Papers can help you find records when you need them and be a guide to you or others in an emergency. Keep an extra copy of the completed form in a secure location outside your home and double-check it periodically against your working copy to make sure the two versions are the same.