This week, SRQ Wealth is proud to host a guest blog by our friend, a local professional, Reba Rogers, CPA, founder of Secure Aging. Secure Aging is a group of care managers who preserve the independence and protect the assets of seniors by helping them with financial management: http://secureaging.com.
In this age of electronic storage and communications, have you seen more paper than ever coming through your mailbox? Forms, confirmations, notices, prospectuses, etc. etc.! The postal service is definitely alive and well!
In all seriousness, The Secure Aging staff has seen a recent flurry of interest in our paperwork organization services. With that in mind, here are some tips for managing those huge volumes of paper.
The event that often triggers much of this activity is the loss of a loved one, with examples being children who have recently lost a parent or a wife / husband losing their spouse. The grief-stricken individual has difficulty going through all of the paperwork because of the memories that surface. They literally become paralyzed when trying to decide what to keep and what to throw away.
What Secure Aging has been able to do is remove the mountains of paper from the home and do the sorting and organizing for the client so that they do not have to make those challenging decisions on their own. We bring back to the home those files which contain family pictures and other items of sentimental value, as well as important tax documents, property deeds, identification cards, etc. – all organized. We establish an in-home filing system to make it easy for the client to find things when the need arises.
Once the initial organization is complete, the task of maintaining the filing system becomes much easier and actually relieves some of the stress and guilt our clients have been feeling.
Here are some tips for tackling this monumental job on your own:
- Set a Time Limit: The mounds of paper did not build overnight, so don’t expect that you can tackle it in a few days and be done with it. Decide how many hours per day or week that you will devote to the task. When time is up, stop and reward yourself by doing something fun and relaxing. For suggestions on what you need to organize, see “25 Documents You Need Before You Die Organizer.” ß link to .pdf
- Shredding: Use a shredder to destroy paper containing any personally identifiable information (aka “PII,” which generally means anything with your name and an account number or Social Security number on it). If there is going to be too much for a small shredder, separate the trash from the shredding. Then use the services of a local shredding company when enough shredding has built up. I use COPS (Confidential Onside Paper Shredding) because they provide me with a large bin which they come and pick up when it is full. Then I get a certification that the documents were properly shredded.
(Note: Clients are welcome to use SRQ Wealth’s shredding service for documents they wish to have securely discarded).
- Four Years: Tax returns can be audited three years from the filing of the tax return. Since returns are filed in the year following year end (for example, 2016 return was filed in 2017), you only need to keep detailed records for four years to safely have any documents needed to support your return. All prior years can be shredded. I have a box of 4 years of tax documents. When I put the new year in the box, the oldest year comes out and goes into the shredder bin.
Reba Rogers, CPA, is the founder of Secure Aging, a group of care managers who preserve the independence and protect the assets of seniors by helping them with financial management. She is also a Director Consultant for BNI (Business Network International), a referral marketing organization which gives her access to many trusted business professionals in the community. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Reba directly at (941) 761-9338 or via e-mail at [email protected].
As always, feel free to contact SRQ Wealth directly for your any of your financial planning or wealth management needs and concerns – and paperwork questions!
Secure Aging, SRQ Wealth and LPL Financial are separate entities.
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.