How do I go about replacing an adoption decree? I just turned 18 and need to apply for citizenship, and apparently my adoption decree is missing.

The lesson titled “Legally Secure Your Financial Future” has a section on replacing important papers. The entire lesson is found at

The section you are interested in is found at

In your state:

To replace marriage licenses and marriage dissolution or adoption decrees, contact the main office of the county government in which the license was obtained, the marriage occurred, or the dissolution or adoption was filed, and ask where these records are kept. If …

How long should you keep monthly utility bills such as gas, electricity, water, etc. for your home?

Many people like to keep their utility expense records for a year in case there are any problems with a utility company crediting their payment and to use to make comparisons between the current year’s utility costs and the previous year’s.

If you want even more of an historical record of your utility expenses, say the last two to 10 years, you could set up a spreadsheet in a computer software program and record the monthly cost and usage of …

How long should I keep the Medicare Summary Notices and Supplemental Insurance Summary of Benefits documents I receive in the mail?

There is no hard and fast rule for saving medical payment records. Certainly, they need to be kept while the medical services that are summarized on the forms are in the process of payment by Medicare and supplemental insurance policies.

After that, it is your call. One suggestion, storage space permitting, is to save medical payment records for three to six years as you would tax deduction records.

That way, if you need to refer back to them, they are …

Creating a Portable File of Important Documents

Life’s emergency situations require advance preparation and planning. The first step is organizing your financial information. Do you have an appropriate place for filing each document? Have you told anyone else where you keep your vital information? Have you shared your wishes in the event of your death? Are your documents available to “grab and go” in case of evacuation? Many situations require that you take action now to avoid financial problems later.

Household Filing System

To develop a household filing system, you may wish to use the following suggested list of headings and subheadings.

Household Filing System Categories


Paid Bill Receipts
Unpaid Bills
Tax Receipts
Papers to File

Financial Accounts

Canceled Checks
Account Books
Credit Card List
Credit Card Receipts
Deposit Slips
Installment Agreements
Loan Contracts
Safe Deposit Box
List of Contents

Investments and Savings

Bank Savings
Credit Union
Money Market Accounts
Mutual Funds
Stocks and Bonds
Other Investments

Insurance Papers