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A Handy Aid For Keeping Track Of Your Records

Are you be able to locate insurance contracts, wills, and other important personal records quickly and easily? With this simple document locator system, you no longer need to wonder where to file a paper or where to find it.

The Document Locator System
Set Up Tabbed Sections
File The Documents
Documents You Should Be Able To Locate Easily
Where To File What


Most people have no idea where to start searching for their important records. They usually keep them scattered in various locations—tax records in a file cabinet, savings bonds in a home safe, wills at an attorney’s office, some contracts or deeds in a bank safe deposit box.

There’s a reason many people do not have an organized record-keeping system: It’s because getting records organized is a stressful, confusing chore.

The Document Locator System is effective because it takes away that stress and confusion. This simple recordkeeping system provides an easy way to keep track of your important personal (not business) records, keeping them organized and available. You will not miss out on a tax deduction because you did not keep the necessary receipt. More importantly, the document locator system will help a spouse or executor locate documents in case of your death or disability.


Set up tabbed sections in your files with the following captions (modifying, deleting or adding sections as appropriate to your particular situation):

  1. Banking
  2. Children
  3. Credit and Loans
  4. Employment
  5. Estate Planning [including wills and post-mortem matters]
  6. Important Personal
  7. Insurance
  8. Investments
  9. Major Assets
  10. Professional Residences
  11. Tax Records
  12. Vehicles [including boats]


File the documents and other records listed in Column 1 in the file sections recommended in Column 2 of the Document Locator. Where the original or a copy is filed elsewhere, note this location in Column 3 of the Document Locator. You can also use Column 3 for any notes regarding the document (such as: Passport—"Renew by October 12, 2000" or IRA—"Take first distribution by December 31, 2000"). Where your filing system suggests a file section other than that recommended in Column 2, just substitute your location for the recommended one. For items other than those named here, use the blank spaces at the end of the Locator.

This Document Locator is shown at the end of this Financial Guide.

TIP TIP: Put a photocopy of the Document Locator, which will contain the locations of all your important documents, in a fireproof safe or safe deposit box.
TIP TIP: In addition to the Document Locator System, an essential part of making sure you’ve done everything you can to help your heirs and family members get your affairs in order in the event of death or disability is to prepare a post-mortem letter to a spouse or executor. The purpose of such a letter is to provide them with the information needed to locate records or assets. This will prevent erosion of your estate by unnecessary taxes, unfounded claims or just plain loss of assets. 

The key is to develop and follow some type of record-keeping system, not necessarily the one recommended here. If you have any questions, contact your financial advisor.

TIP TIP: Cull your records every so often. By getting rid of the papers you no longer need, you’ll minimize the ever-encroaching mountains of paper we all find ourselves dealing with, and often buried under.


Certain documents, records and other information should be easily locatable in an emergency. These include (1) your personal records, (2) a list of your assets, (3) your estate planning records and (4) your financial records, as listed below:

Personal Records

  • Birth certificates of family members.
  • Death certificates of deceased family members.
  • Marriage license.
  • Divorce decree and custody agreement (if divorced).
  • Passports (updated)
  • Social Security numbers for family members
  • The names and addresses of family members, close relatives and any persons mentioned in a will.
  • Military records.
  • List of previous employers.
  • List of government employers.
  • Medical records and health insurance cards for family members.

In most cases, the reason these documents are needed is self-explanatory.

List of Your Assets

  • Description of all major assets that you own separately or jointly with your spouse or other person, together with the approximate values and location of deeds, titles, stock certificates or other evidence of ownership.
Note Note: Include cash, realty, investments, IRAs, retirement plan benefits, life insurance policies, interests in partnerships or other business entities, jewelry and other luxury items, automobiles, boats, antiques, coin collections, collectibles, art objects, and debts owed to you by others
  • Appraisals of valuable items,
  • Description of the approximate amounts of pension, military, and/or other benefits you or your spouse may be entitled to on retirement or death,
  • Insurance policies (including group life, individual life, health, casualty, auto, etc.) and identity and phone numbers of insurance agents.

Estate Planning Records

  • The whereabouts of your will and codicils, along with the name and address of the attorney who prepared them,
  • Title to cemetery plot or other burial arrangement,             
  • Post-mortem letter to spouse or family members, to be opened after your death, and
  • Living will or other directions in case of disability.

Financial and Other Records

  • Location of all safe deposit boxes, keys, and passwords
  • Important canceled checks
  • The names and addresses of your CPA, attorney and any other professionals concerned with your financial affairs
  • Photographic or video record of house and its contents (for homeowners’ insurance purposes)
  • One statement for each bank account, IRA, mutual fund, broker or other account you own, along with the name and telephone number of the primary banker, broker or other contact person for each account
  • Brokers’ confirmation slips for purchases
  • A statement or other reference for any bank account that is not in your name
  • One statement or payment stub for each credit card, line of credit or outstanding loan
  • Income tax returns for at least six prior years (including all supporting records for past six years), and all prior gift tax returns
  • Records showing the original cost of any realty owned, cost of all improvements that can be added to tax basis, and depreciation taken (for business or rental property)
  • Bills of sale or receipts for major items
  • Equipment and appliance manuals and warranty information





Accident reports Insurance


Adoption records Important Personal and/or Children


Accountant Professionals


Address book Important Personal


Alimony records Tax Records


Apartment—records for Residences


Annuity Investments


Antiques Major Assets


Appliances—receipts, warranties and contracts for Major Assets


Appraisals of assets Major Assets


Assets—list of Major Assets


Attorney Professionals and/or Estate Planning


Auto insurance Vehicles and/or Insurance


Auto loans Credit and Loans


Auto mileage logs Tax Records


Automobile title Vehicles


Bank account statements Banking


Bills of sale Major Assets


Birth certificates Important Personal and/or Children


Boat insurance Insurance


Boat records Vehicles


Broker account statements Investments


Business interests Investments


Canceled checks—general Banking
Canceled checks—insurance Insurance


Canceled checks—tax-related Tax Records


Casualty loss records Insurance


CD Banking and/or Investments


Cemetery plot Estate Planning


Charitable gifts Tax Records


Checking account statements Banking


Child support papers Important Personal and/or Children


Claims—insurance Insurance


Coin collection Major Assets


Collections Major Assets


Confirmation slips—from broker Investments


CPA Professionals


Credit cards—list of Credit and Loans


Credit card statements Credit and Loans


Credit report—from credit reporting agency Credit and Loans


Credit union papers Banking and/or Credit and Loans


Custody agreement Important Personal and/or Children


Day care records Children


Death benefits Employment


Death certificate Important Personal


Debts owed to you Investments


Debts you owe Credit and Loans


Deeds to homes Residences


Disability insurance Insurance


Dividends—records of Investments


Divorce decree Important Personal


Doctors Professionals


Dues—professional or union Tax Records


Employee benefits—description of Employment


Employers—list of Employment


Equipment—business use of Tax Records


Equipment—warranties for Major Assets


Expenses Tax Records


Fees—deductible Tax Records


Financial statement—your personal Credit and Loans


Forms—tax Tax Records


Funeral arrangements Estate Planning


Furs Major Assets


Gifts—taxable Tax Records


Government employers—list of Employment


Health insurance Insurance


Home—contents of, photographic records Insurance


Home office Tax Records


Home improvements Residences


Inherited property—record of basis Residences


Insurance policies Insurance


Interest—record of Residences and/or Tax Records


IRA Banking


Jewelry Major Assets


K-1 Forms Tax Records


Safe deposit box keys Banking


Lawyers Professionals and/or Estate Planning


Lease—home Residences


License—driver’s Vehicles


Life insurance policies Insurance


Limited partnership documents Investments


List of assets Major Assets


List of automobiles Vehicles


List of bank accounts Banking


List of brokerage accounts Investments


List of children’s schools Children


List of credit cards Credit and Loans


List of debts Credit and Loans


List of employers—government and private Employers


List of home improvements Residences


List of life insurance policies Insurance


List of safe deposit boxes Banking


Living will Important Personal


Loans—list of Credit and Loans


Maintenance of appliances Major Assets


Marriage certificate Important Personal


Medical expenses Tax Records


Medical professionals Professionals


Mileage logs—expenses Tax Records


Military discharge Important Personal
Military employers Employment


Mortgage note Residences


Mortgage payments and yearly statement Residence and/or Tax Records
Moving expense Tax Records


Mutual funds Investments


Naturalization papers Important Personal


Owner’s manuals Vehicles and/or Major Assets


Partnership statements Tax Records


Passports Important Personal


Paycheck stubs Employment


Pets Important Personal


Pension benefits—description Employment


Photos of family members Important Personal


Photos of home contents Insurance


Properties owned—list of Residences


Property damage—records Insurance


Prospectuses Investments


Real estate owned Residences


Real estate taxes Residences and/or Tax Records


Registration Vehicles


Rent—records of Residences


Residence closing—records of Residences


Retirement accounts Investments


Safe deposit boxes Banking


Savings accounts Banking
Schools—list of Children


Service—military Employment and/or Important Personal


Social Security numbers Important Personal


Stock certificates Investments


Survivors’ benefits—descriptions Employment


Tax returns and forms Tax Records


Traffic tickets Vehicles


Titles to vehicles Vehicles


Travel expenses Tax Records


Trust documents Estate Planning


Unemployment compensation Employment


Vacation home Residences


W-2 forms Tax Records


Warranties Major Assets


Wills Estate Planning





















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