Paper Paper Paper! What should I keep, What Can I toss? A Household Guide to Filing

Top Ten Papers You should Keep

1. All insurance policy Information including life, home, health and auto;

2. All Social Security Documentation;

3. All Voter Registration Information;

4. Receipts or Invoices for Large Purchases or Work Done in Your Home;

5. Property Records;

6. All Warranty Product Information and Receipts for the Products and Box Information;

7. All Vehicle Paper Work Including Title, Purchase  and Maintenance Records;

8. Records of Payments to Monthly Contractors;

9. Credit Card Statements for Two Years;

10. Kids Papers with a Story they Wrote,  a Handprint, Personal Information,  or a Photo;

So if you’re like most people you have piles of mail around the house and a filing cabinet that’s partially full.  This raises the question “what should I keep what should I throw away?”  I decided to write this blog for friends family and my loyal readers who are likely in the same boat. In fact, I find myself letting papers pile up sometimes and it is stressful and frustrating. So what should you keep and what should you throw away. 

I am writing this blog as a consumer guide to a home filing system to organize your papers and determine what important documents to keep that you may need for issues that may arise in the future. There are a lot of categories of documents that come into the house. There are utility bills, medical bills, insurance documentation both from your health, life, auto, and home insurance company and from your home, life,  and auto insurance company tax information, voting insurance companies, documentation from your kids schools, miscellaneous bills, and of course the piles of junk mail that come in. The junk usually gets tossed and if your house is like mine, the rest of the mail gets tossed into a pile. I’m going to attempt to categorize the most common types of paper we find laying around and what should be kept and what should be thrown away. Before I can give that advice it is very important that every person especially, a homeowner have a simple filing cabinet that you can pick up at anywhere from Walmart, Target, Staple, or Office Depot.  You can probably even order one off Amazon.  It is astounding how they can deliver large items so cheaply.

Utility Bills 

Utility bills can mount and take up a lot of space. Between gas bills, water bills, sewer bills, trash bills, electric bills, they can take up half your filing cabinet by the end of the year. There’s really no need to keep these in this day and age. They can be easily accessed online at any time if they are needed.   If you are a person who really likes to keep them, I would suggest just keeping the December bill which usually has a comparison ratio of all the months.

Medical Bills and Health Insurance EOB’s

These can also get voluminous and duplicitous.  If you’ve had a recent medical procedure I would recommend keeping a file for your bills until everything has been resolved and paid. Often there is dispute between the insurance company and what is billed. In fact you may often see different bills — one that indicates the matter is resolved and then you may receive another  bill a month later indicating that there is an outstanding balance. Along with the medical bills is also important to keep the insurance company EOB’s (explanation of benefits). This tells you what you would owe and  the insurance company discounts . Often time’s medical providers will bill you outside their contract rates even though they are not supposed to do this.   It is important that you keep those papers from the insurance company for easy reference. Although they can sometimes be pulled up online, sometimes it can be difficult navigating their websites with all of the HIPPA and privacy laws.

Kids Papers

As a mom and a busy attorney with a lot of paperwork it is always difficult to know what to keep and what to throw away. I believe a standard rule is to keep any of your kid’s paperwork that has a hand print, a photo,  or a story they wrote. Also keep test scores and report cards.   I like to scan those into a file on the computer. Status report progress reports can get thrown away as cam every day graded papers.

Insurance Papers 

Several times a year your insurance company will send you what is called your declarations page as well as often a copy of the policy or any amendments that have been made to the policy. In order to ease the filing of  claim if the time comes,  it is really to your benefit to keep all of that paperwork in an insurance file. You don’t know when you will need it but if you need it,  it will save you a lot of headaches to have easy access to that policy information.

Social Security Paperwork

Periodically no matter what your age you will receive documentation if you are working adult from the Social Security administration. These documents are sent out in frequently and they really should be kept. It is difficult to get anything from the Social Security department and very time-consuming.  Especially older readers and these documents are sometimes needed to obtain senior housing and other senior benefits.  

Voter Registration Documents

Like Social Security records, voter registration documents are not sent very often and they are difficult to obtain. When you receive your voter registration cards in the mail, you should definitely have a file and keep that paperwork for future issues regarding voting and sometimes even for identification.

Vehicle Paperwork

It is easy to toss the paperwork for your vehicle when you have the oil changed or a new battery installed. It is important to keep all of your documentation regarding your vehicle including maintenance documents,  records from the time of purchase, all documents involving title, and of course all warranty paperwork. You will want these maintenance records when you go to sell your vehicle to establish that your vehicle is well-maintained to any potential buyer.

Property Records

 Although property records are accessible on the assessors webpage they are generally not voluminous and only sent once or twice a year. You are wise to keep all property records regarding any real property that you own in a file for reference

Product Information

This is another piece of paper that tends to pile up our receipts of all kinds. Specifically receipts for purchases at retail outlets. If your purchase is tax-deductible you will want to keep that in a tax file for the end of the year. If your purchase has a warranty you will want to keep the receipt and I always advise to make a copy if you can because the receipt papers that you are provided at the stores tend to fade over time. You can also scan the receipt into your computer or take a picture with your phone.  Be sure to create a folder in your photos for receipts.  Also keep the paperwork with the warranty information from the product you purchased as well as the serial number from the packaging. I like to just cut off that little square of the packaging and keep it with the receipt.

Wallet File

This is probably the most important piece of this blog and I probably should’ve put it first. Always keep a lost wallet file which has a copy of the front and back of all the most important items that you keep in your wallet on a daily basis. This includes your primary credit cards, your driver’s license, and any other forms of ID that are in your wallet.  Did you know that if you lost your driver’s license and you go on the DMV’s website you can simply order a new one if you know the date that your license was issued and your license number. If you do not have that information you need to go to the DMV in person. This alone is enough to urge you to keep a copy of these items. In addition, if you do lose your actual driver’s license you can keep a copy in your vehicle at least to tell the officer that you have ordered a new one in the event that you don’t have it. It took over three weeks to get the new license from the DMV in the mail. When you have credit card number and expirations you can cancel that much more quickly.  Especially  if you have the phone number and all of the information off the card which is not on your statements.  I highly recommend updating this file at least once a year.

If you were a loved one has any legal question or has been injured in any type of accident please call the offices of TheOneLawyer.com today. We are a boutique law firm providing experienced and personal representation to injured clients.  At the Law Offices of Laura Payne-Hunt, TheOneLawyer.com we provide professional and personal service to each and every one of our clients on various legal matters and have over 15 years of experience in reviewing insurance policies and in Nevada insurance law.   If you have a question regarding any type of personal injury or paying your medical bills from an accident, please don’t hesitate to call the offices of TheOneLawyer.com and speak directly to attorney Laura Marie Payne-Hunt, Esq. a Henderson Injury Attorney for over 15 years.  Laura is recognized as one of Nevada’s Top 100 Lawyers.  She has the experience and knowledge to obtain the maximum settlement you deserve.  Please call our office if you or a loved one is injured.  We can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve and advise on how to preserve evidence.  

At our office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to.  Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities.  They want to pay as little on every claim as possible.  Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I have reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.   

At the Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury law offices of TheOneLaweyer.com, Laura Marie Payne-Hunt and her staff are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury offices.  TheOneLawyer.com is a boutique, family owned law firm that specializes in helping injured people and the community of Las Vegas and Henderson Nevada with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, product liability claims, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.