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How Long Should I Keep That Document?

Document Retention

Last week I talked about clearing out your messy paperwork.  I mean the piles of papers on your desk, unfiled bills and receipts stuffed in envelopes, various types of documents that you have not yet figured out what to do with.  You probably already know that certain document categories should be kept forever.  This would include things like birth, marriage and death certificates.  That category also includes annual tax returns and their accompanying W2 forms.  Any document relating to a life insurance policy should never be discarded.  If you have a will or a trust (and you should have at least one of them), they should be kept forever.

What about papers relating to alimony, custody or prenuptial agreements?  All of those should be kept in perpetuity.  For anyone who served in the military, you should always keep all of your military paperwork, especially your DD214.

Some Items Only Need to Be Kept for 7 Years

This would be things like medical receipts, 1099 forms relating your income as an independent contractor.  Year end brokerage statements fall into the 7 year category as well as IRA statements and 401K statements.

Your home is a whole other type of document issue.  Keep track of purchases of major improvements and maintenance for 7 years.  Insurance policies (other than life insurance) on your home or auto should also be filed for 7 years after expiration of the policy.  Also keep photos and/or videos of valuables for at least 7 years.

What Not to Keep

When you pay your monthly bills like utilities, credit cards etc. (for those of you who still write checks), keep the stubs for 60 to 90 days.  If you deposit a check by using an app and taking a photo of it on your I Phone or Android device,  the bank advises to keep the check for a couple of weeks in case they have any questions.  Then just shred the check.  It feels weird to shred a check!!

A good time to sort your end of year documents is just after you put all the Christmas decorations away.  That way you should have plenty of space to spread things out.

While you take care of year end chores, let Custom Maid come every week or two and take care of all your housecleaning chores.  Call us at 499-8568 TODAY!

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Editor’s Note:  We originally published this article in January 2015.  We have edited it for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.