Paper Problems? Part 1

Important Papers

This is the first article in a 3 article series on controlling the papers that dominate our lives. Watch for parts 2 and 3 to be completed!

Working in real estate, specifically property management, I am shocked at the number of people who just don’t have their important papers together. For instance, many people don’t keep copies of things like rent receipts. You never know when there will be an accounting error and you will have to prove you have paid rent. Remember that a computer is only as good as the person entering the information, and that everyone makes mistakes! In addition, I have come in contact with a staggering number of people who don’t keep a copy of their lease! Your lease is a LEGALLY BINDING DOCUMENT between you and your land lord. Not keeping your copy is the equivalent of asking to be walked all over. There are a lot of unscrupulous individuals who will take advantage of any weakness that they can find in you. Not keeping important paperwork is a huge oversight of many people.

How do you go about protecting yourself (and your papers)? More after the jump.

In order to keep my papers under control, I have devised a dual layer protection protocol that I use to keep myself safe and organized. First, gather the paperwork that you need to keep safe, but still at hand. Things you will want to include in your hunt are:

  • HOME – Deeds, leases, mortgage papers, insurance, appliance warranties & receipts, utility bills, inventory,
  • AUTO – Titles, car note information, registrations, insurance, repairs,
  • IDENTIFICATION – Passports, birth certificates, social security cards, licenses, marriage certificates, wills, medical records,
  • PROFESSIONAL Professional certifications, degrees,
  • TAXES – Tax information, 1099s, W-2s,
  • WORK – Job contracts, offer letters, non compete agreements,
  • FINANCIAL -Bank statements, credit card statements, bills, investments,
  • PERSONAL – Planners, to-do lists, notes, ideas, calendars, contact lists,

This list is by no means exhaustive, and you may want to add your own items. Feel free to comment with additional items that you keep handy. Having these papers is the first layer of protection in the dual layer protection protocol. Keep them organized in a system that you find convenient, but keep them in some sort of system, and keep them up to date! Easy accessibility to original papers can be critical when the unlikely becomes reality. Some papers, such as birth certificates, deeds, etc may be better kept in a fire safe, or in a safe deposit box. Other paperwork, such as utility bills, are probably fine in a file cabinet.

Keep watch for part 2 of this article, where I will discuss the importance of digitizing documents.

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