By Wilma Bedford
Your office and desk may be neatly organised, but is your personal information in your house organised and safely filed?
Although we are living in a digital era, there is a certain amount of paper work that has to be done at home and if you do not do it faithfully and regularly, it could become a mountain that you sweep under the proverbial carpet while in so doing you misplace important documents, which could cause a lot of problems later. Whether you are 18 or 80, you have collected important information that need to be available to prospective employees, authorities and guardians should you yourself be unable to provide that information due to unforeseen circumstances. Perhaps you will also need that information fast, for instance for a job application.
There are two things you can be sure of in life: tax and death and therefore it is essential to have the relevant documents available – one for the regular annual event and the other for your next of kin upon your death.
Which important documents should be filed carefully and what information should be available when you or your next of kin need it? How does one set about organising your personal paper work?
Make files that contain information about a certain aspect of your life and keep themes separate.
- Assemble the following documents while you can and have the time: birth certificate (also those of family members), marriage certificate, bill of divorce, name-change document, death certificate of spouse, and tax numbers.
- The most private file will contain information that is needed immediately when a person dies. Each member of the family should assemble such a file and keep it in a safe place and confidentiality must be guaranteed and respected by other members of the family. This file must contain information that will facilitate administration of the estate. The following information is essential: a preferably original birth certificate, ID, a funeral policy, a will, a list of bank accounts and investments with account numbers, PIN, passwords for access to computer or cell phone (also for in case you yourself, while still alive, cannot get access to your finances or if a crime is being investigated), a marriage certificate, ID and/or passport numbers, tax number, medical fund membership, policies, a list of property you own, e.g. fixed assets such as a house or stand and personal assets such as valuable paintings or jewelry. Most important is a will; should you die without a will the state will decide about the disposal of your assets. Load this information on a hard disk and give it to your legal or financial adviser or a trustworthy person for safekeeping.
- Your personal tax: the last five returns. Keep personal and business tax separate.
- Your finances: your bank and credit statements, loans you are paying off, EFT payments you are making, hire-purchases
- Your house: proof of payment of rental, your lease or purchase contract, mortgage, and home and/or car insurance, expenditure on repairs
- Medical fund information with proof of payment to service providers. This information needs to be at hand when you do tax returns.
- Accounts such as municipal accounts and other service providers to avoid disputes
- Guarantees of goods you bought where the period of guarantee has not yet expired
- The family’s birth and performance certificates, academic certificates and awards
- Pet information such as vaccinations or pedigree certificates
- Regularly file and dispose of unnecessary or obsolete documents, such petrol slips of five years ago. Regularly review the contents of each file and burn or shred what is no longer relevant but contains personal information such as an ID or account number.
Keep paper files but load information on a separate digital disk so that you can send information digitally if necessary. If there is enough space, invest in a filing cabinet that will secure your document safely in one place.
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