Financial Disaster Plan: Keeping Your Records Safe and Accessible
In 2010, we featured tips on keeping your financial information safe, and we provided tips to protect your passwords and records through backup and other measures. This information hit home with a wallop here at Honeck O’Toole, just days before we emailed that advice.
On Thursday night, February 25, 2010, the roof blew off our 4-story Portland waterfront office building during a Nor’easter that brought in dangerous hurricane-like winds. It really did blow the entire roof over the building, into the street, and on top of boats docked along Portland Pier.
Our friend Kurt Knudsen was working at Dimillo’s, observing the boats in the marina and saw the roof blow off. He called us to say, “You better get down here, the roof just blew off your building.”
Our Business Manager Patti Wilson noted, “It definitely caused more activity here, adding more crazy to the usual craziness of tax season.” But by the end of the following day, there was a temporary roof in place and business continued as usual.
We’re pleased to say that we were still able to work on tax return preparation despite the disruption, and we’re committed to completing and filing every single return in a timely manner.
It pays to have a disaster plan
So not only is it important to make your financial information secure, you need access to it at all times. If a storm, fire, lightning bolt or other event should strike your office or home, could you easily retrieve all your important records?
If not, we recommend creating a backup plan for keeping the following documents safe and retrievable at all times; perhaps in a locked, flood-proof and fireproof safety deposit box:
- Personal financial and legal records, such as mortgage deeds, passports, Social Security cards, bank and credit card account information, marriage or divorce records, birth certificates, investment accounts, insurance policies, stocks, citizenship records, service papers, car titles, and any other document that is either government or court recorded. You’ll also want to keep a backup of your computer passwords and files in case your computer is destroyed. Some people make a photocopy of all their credit cards and place it in the safety deposit box.
- Business financial and legal records, such as income and expense statements, balance sheets, loan information, incorporation papers, etc. and a backup of your most critical computer files and passwords.
You may want to keep many documents forever, but some can be discarded after six years. (While the IRS generally has 3 years to audit Federal income tax returns, home-office businesses and certain individuals must present records going back 6 years. If you ever failed to file a return, the IRS could go back even further.
Before Disaster Strikes
Advice from Peter Callnan: “Who would you call first if a weather event or anything suddenly jeopardized your personal and financial records? Identify those people now, and keep their phone numbers where you can find them quickly.”
Our financial articles are presented by Honeck O’Toole, Maine certified public accountants.
Our financial articles are presented by Honeck O’Toole, Maine-based certified public accountants. If you ever have questions about your money’s safety, please email us or call 207-774-0882.