When was the last time you devoted some quarantine free time to cleaning out your physical filing cabinet? Probably not since the beginning of the coronavirus shut down. Since we’re all still waiting for the world to reopen, you may as well use it to do some spring cleaning. With spring right around the corner, there’s no better time to clean out your file cabinet, digitize what’s necessary and sort through what you can get rid of. Here’s a guide for all of the things to save and those to get rid of as you approach that mountain of intimidating paperwork.
Keep During Spring Cleaning
Tax Planning Docs
It’s no surprise that one of the things that you need to keep while cleaning out your file cabinet are your tax documents. As a general rule of thumb, you should keep tax returns for three years from the date the return was filed. There are a few exceptions to the tax planning document and the IRS documents them here.
It’s also encouraged to keep a physical copy of your tax documents as well as a digitized copy. If you’re not sure how to make a digital copy of important documents, just keep reading.
Legal Records and Estate Planning Documents
This is another no-brainer. Vital and legal records should always be kept throughout the spring-cleaning process. These include documents such as birth and death certificates, social security cards, marriage licenses. Other important documents like military service records, adoption papers, and property deeds should also be kept. One that’s important to mention that is often lost or thrown out is the title for your vehicle. While this document may get lost in the shuffle of paperwork, it’s important. Later down the road, it’ll be important to have it when you’re selling your old car and looking to buy a new one when going through spring cleaning.
It’s definitely wise to keep multiple copies of estate planning documents such as wills, trusts, and power of attorney documents. Law firms and legal professionals will keep a copy on file of these important documents, which is nice. But it’s always wise to keep your own personal records in case of lawsuits or settlements.
If you’ve made improvements to a home or property that you own, you should keep those records. All accounts of new repairs, new appliances or remodeling should be kept so that you can factor these important aspects into your sale cost in the future.
What to digitize
It’s always wise to keep three different versions of important documents. Things like medical records, vital/legal documents, and tax documents fall into this category. One can be physical like in a filing cabinet, one can be digitized and one should be on an external hard drive or in a cloud-based service. That way if you lose your computer or something is corrupted, you have two other copies of the important documents you need when it comes to spring cleaning.
With the advent of newer technology, digitizing has become incredibly easy and can be done with an iPhone. Apple’s Notes iPhone app has a built-in camera icon that you can click to take a photo of the documents. This way it’s saved to your phone. From there you can email it to yourself or upload it into a cloud-based service. A few to consider are iCloud or GoogleDrive. There are also multiple scanning apps that are compatible with IOS and Android. Companies such as Adobe to Microsoft and in between typically make them.