Which Documents Can You Toss and Which Must You Keep?


Are you wondering how long to keep documents? Tax documents should be kept for seven years. See the list below for other recommendations.

Which documents are most important? I guess that depends on what you need at the moment. If you are being audited by the IRS, then the documents that support your tax filing statement are the most important. 

If you're leaving on a trip to Europe tomorrow, your passport is indispensible. I think you get the idea. It is extremely important to keep these important documents in a place that you can find them quickly - to avoid the stress of having to search for them. 

Documents That Should Never Be Discarded!

  • Safe-deposit Box inventory & key (update annually)
  • User ID and password list (update regularly)
  • Academic records (diplomas, transcripts, etc.)
  • Family Health Records (including vaccinations)
  • Paid-up loan documents
  • Retirement and Pension records

Documents That Can Discarded As Updates Become Available!

  • Vehicle titles (after sale)
  • Mortgage  and loan documents
  • Social Security statements
  • Savings bonds (at maturity)
  • Term life insurance (at end of term)
  • Bank deposit slips (at reconciliation)
  • Home and auto insurance
  • Driver's License
  • Receipts for large purchases (if under warranty)
  • Service contracts and warranties (until expiration)
  • Wills, Living Wills, and Estate Plan
  • Prescriptions (name, dose, pharmacy)
  • Power of attorney (POA) for finances and health

Tax-related Documents: Keep For Seven Years!

  • Tax returns and supporting documents
  • Pay stubs (keep until reconcile with your W-2)
  • Investment statements and 1099's
  • Credit card bills (if they support tax filings)
  • Bank statements (if they support tax filings)
  • Home purchase and improvement records (at least 3 years beyond sale of home)

This Is Very Important For Your Family!

How long to keep documents would be incomplete without mentioning the "Family Love Letter". We all know that we have a limited time on this planet. The love letter is the choice that we make to help our families deal with the many tasks our death will cause.

Only one person has all the information that is needed when we die. Unfortunately he/she can no longer help. Bills need to be paid and people need to be notified. Without a love letter, this can be a very complicated puzzle to put together.

Having all of one’s important information in one place is extremely beneficial to those now responsible for taking over for the deceased. This can be a time of grieving and stress. With a love letter, it does not have to be a time of bewilderment.

Family love letters are growing in popularity. It is one of the best gifts to leave a grieving family. It will eliminate a lot of investigative work and alleviate their burden. I can assure you, from personal experience, families are very appreciative.


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