Depending on how often you use a particular file, you may choose to store it in one of three at-home locations: current files, permanent files, or “dead storage” files.
Current files contain papers that you need frequently. They should be located in the most accessible drawers in a file cabinet or desk or in the easiest-to-reach boxes. You can also store some of them on a computer hard drive that is backed up consistently to a computer disk or jump drive.
Examples: Bank and credit union statements, bills to pay and paid bills, medical information
Permanent files contain papers that you need less often. Because you don’t handle these papers frequently, you can store them in a less accessible file drawer or box — or perhaps in a binder or on a computer disk or jump drive that you can remove quickly in case of a fire, flood, or other emergency. Update these records annually or as needed.
Examples: Education records, employment records, and working copies of your household property inventory and Record of Important Papers
”Dead storage” files — perhaps a box or old file cabinet located in your attic, basement, or closet — are for records that are very rarely used but that may be needed one day.
Example: Past income tax records
- a. Which Papers to Keep
- b. Where to Keep Papers
- c. How Long to Keep Papers
- d. When to Update Papers
- e. How to Replace Papers
Organize Your Important Household Papers belongs to a series called Legally Secure Your Financial Future. The series also includes information to help you communicate with others and begin preparing your estate plan.