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What Is a Confidential Record? Definition, Uses and Importance.

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Confidential records are any piece of information that should only be made available to a specific individual or group. In the court, it is any information introduced into a court proceeding that is not available to the general public. This can include anything from privileged conversations between attorneys and clients, details of witness interviews, or personal lives revealed during trial proceedings when they are testifying.

This information can be personal information such as who the next heir should be, business plans and policies kept from competitors, or security information only available to security personnel.

Records that can also be considered confidential:

Personal information:

Information peculiar to an individual should be treated as confidential. It can only be released to the public if the individual authorizes it.

Individuals may also choose to keep information such as who their next heir will be private.

Solicitor-client privilege:

Information that is subject to solicitor-client privilege or prepared by legal counsel to give legal advice to clients. It can also be information that may be used in court for litigation.

In probate matters, for example, the executor is not allowed to share the information in the will at any point in time until the owner of the will is deceased. The executor must also be the appointed candidate to divulge the information in the will either to a court or the family of the deceased.

Read more about the entire probate process to help you know your rights and the limits of the executor.

Other types of confidential records include:

  • Government relations information
  • Law enforcement information and proceedings
  • Information related to economic interests
  • Institutional plans
  • Closed meetings
  • Medical Records

How To Store Confidential Records

  • Ensure that confidential information is protected against theft and unauthorized use. 
  • Store confidential records in a safe and secure location, such as a locked file cabinet.
  • Electronic confidential information can be stored online in your electronic mail, such as Gmail and Yahoo mail.
  • Activate two-factor authentication security on your email for better protection of your documents.
  • Don’t store confidential records in the same space as confidential records.
  • Use passwords that are very difficult to guess on storage accounts of confidential information.

How Confidential Records Are Structured

Confidential Records should be properly organized and uniquely treated from records that are available for public use. One important way of specially treating and identifying confidential records is through Labeling.

Confidential records should be labeled. A confidential record can be labeled Confidential so that they are easily identified. Labeling documents Confidential will send an alert to other staff to keep off from such documents.

It’s the job of the secretary or record officer to determine those that can and cannot have access to some confidential information in an organization.

Confidential information must be strictly kept from unauthorized access. Confidential information should be made available to those who need it to carry out their function in an organization.

For example, the accountant in a business organization needs both credit and debit information in the organization for balance sheets. Credit information such as information on sales of goods and services and debt information such as information on expenses needed to run the day-to-day activities of the business.

Such information should be held confidential from the cleaning staff of the organization. They should also be kept from the competitors.

The lifespan of Confidential Record

Confidential information can lose its sensitivity and cease to be confidential after a certain period. It can also lose its confidentiality because of a change of event or circumstances.

Examples of Confidential information and their lifespan

Personal Information:

Personal information is considered confidential until the person discloses it to the public. Personal information about people who have been dead for 30 to 40 years may cease to be confidential.

Press Release:

A press release is confidential until it is broadcast. It ceases to be confidential immediately after it’s released to the public.

Business plans and policies:

Business plans and policies under consideration by stakeholders are considered confidential. They must be kept confidential so that other competitors may not steal their idea. Once they arrive at a conclusion and the plans and policies are executed in the business settings, it ceases to be confidential.

How Are Confidential Records Used?

In The Hospital:

Confidential records are used in the hospital. The recording officer keeps medical information about patients from public access. These records are usually not released to anyone without authorization from the patient. However, it can be made accessible through a court order.

In Business Organization:

Businesses usually keep some information confidential from their competitors and the general public. Confidentiality builds trust between companies and staff. Businesses must keep their staff information secure. They must also not release customer information such as emails, personal information, and other related data to other companies.

In Politics:

Political parties usually keep information secret from the general public and opposition parties, especially during an election period. Such information may be information on the total number of card-carrying members of their political party, or the total number of eligible voters.

In Military:

The military could hold confidential information on the next step of terrorists. Such information is often kept within the military until their mission is achieved. 


Insider Information

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