Many seniors tend to develop hoarding habits after a while. This can make it very difficult to keep them organized, which can become a major problem when the time comes to find important paperwork regarding medical information, financial information and other records.
The problem is that for most elderly people, they’re not sure what is and is not important, so they tend to keep everything, just in case. There’s something to be said for that, but it doesn’t make the process easier for you. Learn how to purge your elder loved one’s financial papers and documents, learn which files to keep and how you can effectively manage senior paperwork.
As you sift through the reams of documents, it’s important to know which ones you absolutely must keep. There are certain documents that you should keep for your entire life, or replace if you lose them.
These include birth certificates, social security cards, passports, identification, death certificates, marriage licenses, business licenses, insurance policies, estate planning documents (wills, powers of attorney, living wills, advance directives, etc.), loan documents, mortgage and deeds, and vehicle titles.
Other documents you want to hang onto include any paperwork related to government matters, whether they’re local, state or federal. These include licenses, deeds, certifications and the like. Separate these documents out and put them together in a safe place where you can quickly and easily access them, but where they’ll be secure against emergencies. A fire safe is a great place to store documents as such.
There are other documents which your parents may have been holding onto for years, but which you only need to keep temporarily. Tax records, for example, only need to be kept for seven years. You’ll never need these documents if they’re older.
Bank statements and pay stubs, you only need to keep for the past year. Any documents related to the sale or purchase of a home, or home improvement efforts should be kept for six years after a home sale. Anything that’s under warranty, hold on to the warranty document as long as you own the item.
Keep any medical records or bills for a year after you pay them. Documents such as social security statements, retirement plans and insurance statements only need to be kept for the most recent version.
Place these documents together but separate from the lifetime documents. That’s all you need. Everything else can go. This is a simple but effective filing system that will ensure you always have easy access to what you need.
Estate Planning and Senior Paperwork
The best way to learn what you need and what you don’t, especially if there are gray areas you’re not sure about, is to contact an experienced estate planning attorney. An attorney can help you to determine if a document will be important for legal matters, or if it can be disposed of, and how to best dispose of sensitive documents.
They can also help you with any gaps in documentation, like establishing estate planning paperwork. If you’re in Ohio and need help planning your senior loved one’s finances and paperwork, call Stano Law for help today.