How far back does a power of attorney need to keep records?

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In regard to being a power of attorney (PoA), how far back do you have to keep documentation for accounting purposes?


I have been PoA for my mother since 2004 and had to place her in a nursing home due to her dementia in June, 2015; she is now 90 and has enough assets to pay for her care with her private funds for at least a few more years. Because of the the 5-year Medicaid look-back period, I have been discarding all records that go beyond 5 years, and have been doing so on a monthly basis. For example, this month (July 2016) I discarded all records dated June, 2011.


Do I need to hold onto everything, no matter how old it is, just in case of an audit (for example, at the request of my siblings) or is 5 years of record keeping sufficient?

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Thank you cwillie!

Sure, my siblings could ask for everything since the dawn of civilization but I am concerned about my legal responsibility to hold onto documentation and that alone. Unfortunately my mother's attorney neglected to give me the PoA instruction book when he wrote up the document!

If I had to reconstruct what happened during the time frame covered by the documents I got rid of that would be a lot of work. I really do want to get rid of any unnecessary documentation (I just hate clutter) and would like to know if I am legally protected as PoA if I continue to toss documents after the five-year mark (with the exception of certain tax records, as mentioned above). If my siblings have any legal grounds to make me produce records from before then I will stop tossing anything out anymore.
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I think if you are worried about greedy siblings you would need everything from day one (and back to your birth too, lol), and that still probably wouldn't satisfy them. In any case you have already tossed everything so I can't see that there is any point in worrying about something that is already done.
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It really is none of my business, but since you asked. I would keep records for a very long time, at least 10 yrs. Just in case there is a problem. Why be so eager to throw stuff away.
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Angel,

Thank you! For the tax records, I do keep the supporting documentation going back to the period my accountant recommended. For example, on April 15, 2016 I got rid of all the supporting documentation for the 2009 return (but not the return itself; he said no one should ever get rid of a return while alive in case there is, for example, Social Security makes an error in calculating benefits). As for debt, I know with absolute certainty that there is no debt whatsoever, so that will never be an issue.

My main concern is what if one of my siblings wants an audit; for that specific scenario, how far back do I need to keep documentation (i.e., how far back is it my legal responsibility as PoA to keep records)? There was a lot of jealousy when I was made PoA, and that is really intensifying since I placed my mother in the nursing home and it has been ramping up with each healthcare decision I make on my mother's behalf.
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The rule of thumb is 7 years. Yes you are correct that Medicaid has a 5 year lookback and will required 5 years of paperwork but they are not the only game in town. The IRS can go back 7 years in case there is an audit. And, if there is any bad debt/recovery, you may need more than that as with the new laws on selling debt, an old debt may be active many years beyond that, and if you can't prove you paid it or it isn't valid, you could be out of luck and stuck paying.

Angel
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In case it makes a difference as to the answer, my mother and I are and have always been New Jersey residents.
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