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Taxes - Head Matters


9. Keeping Good Records

When was the last time you couldn't find an important paper you knew you had carefully put away someplace? How much time do you spend trying to straighten out your household business affairs, especially at income tax time? How do people decide what records are important to keep and what they can throw away? How do they decide where to store and keep such records and papers?

Even though each family or household must work out its own system, some general guidelines can be helpful. As a starter, ask yourself a few questions:
  • How easy or difficult would it be for other members of your household to figure out your record system? Or…do you even have a system?
  • Who, besides you, knows where to turn for necessary information about the family household assets and obligations? Do you have a listing of people who are important contacts, such as landlords, tax counselors, attorneys, bankers, brokers, insurance representatives, employers, creditors, and debtors?
  • Are you sure titles to property and possessions are held in a good place? What happens if the place where you live is burglarized or there's a fire and records are destroyed? What do you do when you lose track of important paper? Which can be replaced, and how do you go about that? Which ones cannot be replaced, and what do you do about those?
A good record system will be invaluable if you or a member of your household dies or if other changes happen in your family: divorce or separation, children reaching legal age, a long illness, a lawsuit, a natural disaster, loss of a job, and retirement.
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