NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Where is The Record of________?

Where is The Record of ______?

Our lives and households could be described as mini-businesses – we plan, buy, save, invest, receive payment and proof of ownership, insure property, pay taxes and record important events such as births and deaths.  All of those business happenings generate a great deal of paper and records to keep track of.  Have you ever asked yourself where a particular record is? 

Basic records are valuable papers or documents that are used frequently. These include driver's license; health, life and car insurance; car registration; identification or citizenship information; and information on special health concerns such as allergies, disabling conditions and blood type. These are records that should be easily accessible and available for day-to-day use.

Personal records also include family health records; birth, marriage, death and divorce certificates or decrees; deeds; leases; contracts; wills; and military and social security papers.

Records for financial or equipment emergencies include a list of credit cards, card numbers and phone or contact numbers of companies. Guarantees, warranties and appliance manuals for household items should be kept in a safe place.

Records that are needed on a monthly basis are current family spending plans and budget, unpaid bills and loan payment books. Financial records prove income and expenses. The IRS does not require records kept in a particular way. Keep them in a manner that works for you.

A good rule of thumb    is to keep your records in a home filing system unless it is a legal document or one that will be difficult to replace or duplicate. The best place for these is in a safe deposit box or in a fireproof, theft-proof storage at home. Home storage units should be able to withstand heat of 1700 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.

Even the best record-keeping system will not fill your needs forever. At least once a year, plan to review files and do some housecleaning.

All records that might be used as proof of ownership should be retained. Keep records that might be necessary for resale purposes, those that relate to income tax deductions and others, which might have value as reference for specific financial transactions such as verification of the original cost or value of property and major home improvement costs. When in doubt, don't throw it out.

Certain family records need to be kept indefinitely. The following are permanent records: birth certificates, citizenship papers, marriage and/or divorce certificates, military records, wills, current insurance policies, employment and education records, credit card information and information on pension records and family health records.

Before making the decision to discard records, especially tax related records, check current IRS regulations at www.irs.gov or ask an accountant. The following are examples of items you might discard: bank statements and receipts of transactions for accounts that are closed; cancelled checks that are not needed as receipts for proof of purchase or income tax purposes; records of appliances that have been replaced; warranties which have expired and care instructions for garments that have been discarded.


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