Musings of a Museum Fanatic: How Long to Keep Important Documents

2.20.2019

How Long to Keep Important Documents


One thing that tends to pile up in most people's homes is papers. Papers of any sort, tax records, bills, mail we intend to read but never get around to reading. Yes, sometimes we're just lazy about it I know I'm guilty of that. Most of the time I think this paper works hangs around because we're just not sure how long we're supposed to keep it. With winter out there now is a great time to go through those drawers of papers you're not sure how long to keep and do some shredding!


Forever

Forever documents are those that you should probably have in a safe place, like a safe deposit box or a second copy with a family member. They are the really really important ones that you'd be SOL without!
  • Birth and death certificates
  • Wills, living wills, and powers of attorney
  • Social security card
  • Marriage license
  • House deed and mortgage documents
  • Any insurance policy related documents
  • Vehicle titles and loan documents
  • Pension plan documents

5+ Years

These are the second most important documents that you'll want to keep on hand. There are conflicting views on how long to keep certain papers like tax returns but with these important papers it's better to be safe and keep it a little longer than less.
    • Tax Records (7 years) 
    • Canceled checks/receipts relating to taxes (7 years) 
    • Home related documents, purchase, sale, improvement 
    • Loan documents (until the loan is paid off)
    • Car titles (until car is sold)
    • Medical bills/claims (7 years)


    1 year

    Now a lot of these papers can be found online and you might not even get a paper version of these anymore. If you do still prefer to handle these through a paper version be sure to hang on to them for a year.
    • Paycheck stubs
    • Credit card statements
    • Bank statements
    • Cancelled checks


    1-3 Months

    • Utility bills
    • Sales receipts for minor purchases
    • Bank deposit slips
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