Did you ever notice that as we get older we tend to have mountains of paperwork? Even if we have converted to e-bills, e-invoices etc. we still have mountains for papers? So much for a paperless world! And if you ask enough people how long you should keep certain papers for, you will get whatever answer you so desire! Financial awareness and copies of it are always important but it is even more important when it comes to senior finances.
Why are senior finances and paperwork so important?
Well first off (let’s be real), the older we get the more likely we are going to be in need of some of the financial paperwork. We may need financial support for health issues, housing issues even end of life issues. Now let’s not be scared off the topic. Senior finances is important but not scary!
Imagine if someone needed to file important paperwork for you to get access to government funding. Or to fill out applications for assisted living or long term care for you. Or better yet, needed to apply to something to arrange the financing for getting renovations in your home so you could remain there. They would need to know where certain documents are. Which means even if some people are bugging us to declutter and throw things out, paperwork is one thing to be careful what you get rid of!
So what paperwork is important to senior finances?
Paperwork to keep may go beyond the obvious for some of us. The obvious for most being your will. Or you Power of Care document. Or your Power of Attorney document etc. If you don’t have copies of those documents, make sure family knows who does. Include the information of the law firm that completed those forms.
The other paperwork to keep on hand may include bank statements, insurance policies, investment statements, tax returns, receipts for payments of any bills, retirement planning, accounts etc. IRS and Revenue Canada expect us to maintain copies of those income tax filings for up to 7 years. They can challenge a return for years after filing. Also the receipts for government payments are a must keep in case electronic files are compromised.
For specific information on this check with your financial planner or lawyer for the rules in your province or state.
It is fair to say that receipts for payments of any type of bill (especially medical bills) would be helpful. You never know if something were to come up that could compromise any estate planning or efforts.
Now if you have migrated to the electronic world, the important paperwork to keep would be the login and password information into your on-line accounts so family, financial planners, lawyers etc. have access to see what is what and where.