How Long Must You Retain Your Financial Records?



A common question that arises each tax season concerns the length of time that financial records must be kept. A desire to get rid of the clutter conflicts with the need to retain critical documents. A great starting point is this article. I recommend clicking the link and giving it a read.

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Why Explaining the Past is as Difficult as Predicting the Future

Most of us will admit that it can be quite difficult to predict the future. No one really knows how events will play out. But determining what happened in the past can be equally challenging. It appears that we are overly confident in explaining an event that has already occurred. The reason is that people, including historians, are subject to bias and impose false order upon random events.

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Beware: Seniors Subject to Fraud

"An estimated one in five older Americans have been financially exploited," according to an article in Barron's, describing the situation as an epidemic. While seniors are subject to a variety of scams, the majority of financial abuse "comes at the hands of family members, friends, or caregivers improperly using a retiree's money." In fact, "AARP found that financial exploitation by family members involves larger sums than those by strangers."

A common example is when an adult child is being compensated for the time she spends caring for an aging parent. Eventually, the child begins drawing additional funds for herself because she "deserves" it. An open conversation with the other siblings or family members can help provide transparency. Requiring more than one person to engage in, or review, financial transactions on behalf of seniors also helps.

It is important to be aware of the warning signs that someone you know may be vulnerable:

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A Lesson from the Election

The presidential election brought home a major point we always seem to forget -- our quest for certainty is never achieved. We crave certainty because it's so comforting. We fear uncertainty because it can be painfully disorienting.

Yet surprises happen!

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