Personal Record Keeping Questions

What information can I record in Personal Emergency Record Keeping Software?
  • Personal Identification
  • Banking Records
  • Credit and Debit Cards
  • Educational History
  • Employment History
  • Home - Mortgage, Capital Improvements, Fixing Up Expenses, Acquisition Costs
  • Other Real Estate
  • Insurance Policies
  • Military Service
  • Investment Activity & History
  • Medical Records - Costs, Prescriptions, Medical History, Appointments
  • Personal Property
  • Inventory
  • Final Wishes
  • Survivor's Tasklist
  • Vehicle Identification, Mileage, Maintenance
  • Vital Documents
  • Warranties
  • Will

While this valuable data is security protected, you should consider providing access to others who may need the information in the event of your death, or if you are seriously injured or ill and unable to communicate your wishes.

Why keep records?
  • Loss of personal property.
  • Stolen or lost credit cards.
  • Injury or illness.
  • Death.
  • Expenses.
  • Basis of real estate.
  • Medical history.
  • Identity theft.
  • Tax returns.
How Should I Keep My Records?

Here are some general guidelines you may follow:

Safe Deposit Box

  • Copy of your Family Facts Report from Personal Emergency Record Keeping Software
  • Medical records
  • Tax returns for the past three years
  • A list of user IDs and passwords for your online accounts

Home Safe or Security Box

  • Copy of your Family Facts Report from Personal Emergency Record Keeping Software
  • Tax returns
  • Home improvement records
  • Warranties and receipts for major purchases
  • Appraisals of jewelry, collectibles, artwork, and other valuable items
  • Retirement account records
  • Recent checking, savings, and investment account statements
  • Rental agreement/lease and/or mortgage documents
  • Recent pay stubs
  • List of emergency contacts, including doctors, financial advisers, and family members
  • Backups of critical computer data
  • Safe deposit box key
  • Copies of your health insurance card

Scan your records and save them to a CD, flash drive or DVD or in the cloud.

Your personal property inventory should include photos and/or videos.

What Records Should I Keep?
Name, address, and taxpayer identification number for all persons or organizations that provide care for your child or dependent.

Records for Tax Purposes

According to the Internal Revenue Service you should keep the following documents as basic records. These records prove your income and expenses. If you own a home or investments, your basic records should contain documents related to those items.

More details on tax record keeping are available in IRS Publication 552, Recordkeeping for Individuals Records for Nontax Purposes

Basic Tax Records
  • Form(s) W-2
  • Form(s) 1099
  • Bank statements
  • Investment statements
  • Form(s) K-1
  • Sales slips
  • Invoices
  • Receipts
  • Canceled checks or other proof of payment
  • Closing statements
  • Purchase and sales invoices
  • Proof of payment
  • Insurance records
  • Brokerage statements
  • Mutual fund statements
  • Form(s) 1099
  • Form(s) 2439

Additional Records

The IRS also suggests you keep records on the following topics if they pertain to you. We suggest you consult the IRS web site to learn more about these topics and their record retention requirements.

  • written separation agreement
  • divorce, separate maintenance, or support decree
Business Use of Your Home
  • part of your home that you use for business
  • the expenses related to that use
Casualty and Theft Losses

For a casualty loss:

  • The type of casualty (car accident, fire, storm, etc.) and when it occurred.
  • That the loss was a direct result of the casualty.
  • That you were the owner of the property.

For a theft loss:

  • When you discovered your property was missing,
  • That your property was stolen,
  • and that you were the owner of the property
Child Care Credit
Education Expenses
Health Savings Account (HSA) and Medical Savings Account (MSA)
Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)
  • Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information
  • Form 1099-R, Distribution From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts
  • Form 8606, Nondeductible IRAs
Medical and Dental Expenses
  • Regular medical expenses
  • Transportation expenses
Mortgage Interest: Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement.
  • Form(s) W-2 and Form(s) 1099-R
  • Estimated state income tax payments
  • State income tax returns
  • Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments
  • Mortgage statements, tax assessments
  • General sales taxes paid.
Property: Keep records relating to property until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the property in a taxable disposition. You must keep these records to figure your basis for computing gain or loss when you sell or otherwise dispose of the property.Generally, if you received property in a nontaxable exchange, your basis in that property is the same as the basis of the property you gave up. You must keep the records on the old property, as well as the new property, until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the new property in a taxable disposition.

Records for Non-tax Purposes

Individual Records
  • Marriage licenses
  • Birth certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Divorce papers
  • Adoption papers
  • Passports
  • Insurance policies
  • Vehicle titles
  • Mortgage records
  • Property deeds
  • Military records
  • Social Security cards
  • Investment documents
  • Copy of wills
How long should I keep my records?

You must keep your records as long as they may be needed for the administration of your own or your family's personal affairs plus any provision of the Internal Revenue Code. Generally, this means you must keep records that support items shown on your tax return until the period of limitations for that return runs out.

The period of limitations is the period of time in which you can amend your return to claim a credit or refund or the IRS can assess additional tax. You may consult the IRS for the period of limitations.

The following is a suggested records retention program:

Record Retention Period
Tax returns Forever 
Tax return documentation  6 years 
Contracts Forever 
Real estate records  Forever 
Last pay stub of a job if you leave that job  Last pay stub of a job if you leave that job 
Last pay stub of the year for your current job  Last pay stub of the year for your current job 
Mortgage payment checks (statements)  Until mortgage is paid off 
Student loan payments  Until loan is paid off 
Car loan payment stubs  Until the loan is paid off 
Cancelled checks  7 years 
Bank deposit slips  7 years 
Bank statements  7 years 
Home improvement records  Ownership period plus 7 years 
Investment records Ownership period plus 7 years 

When your records are no longer needed for tax purposes, do not discard them until you check to see if they should be kept longer for other purposes. Your insurance company or creditors may require you to keep certain records longer than the IRS does.