How Long Should I Keep My Personal Documents?

How Long Should I Keep My Personal Documents?
1 Year 
  • Paystubs
  • Monthly bank and credit card statements
  • Utility bills
  • Receipts for minor purchases (once you’ve checked them against your bank/credit card statements)
  • Expired auto and home insurance policies
  • Vehicle or property leases/agreements (after deposits are received back from the owner)
3 Years 
  • 1099’s
  • W-2’s 
7 Years
  • Disability records
  • Records of loans that have been paid off
  • All tax returns
  • Any documents relating to a purchase or improvement of a residence (deeds, bill of sale, closing statements and tax documents) and all paid mortgages
  • Birth, adoption, and death certificates
  • Marriage licenses, divorce agreements and custody decrees
  • Driver’s licenses, passports, social security cards, and citizenship documents
  • Military records
  • Defined-benefit plan documentation, retirement, and pension records
  • Estate-planning, wills, trusts, and power of attorney documents
  • Life insurance policies
  • Medical and dental records
  • Vehicle records – keep until the boat, car or motorcycle is sold

Thanks to the digital world, record keeping is simpler and requires a lot less paper!  It’s simple to organize and documents are easy to find when you need them.

Go paperless! The IRS has determined that electronic records are the same as paper originals.  In some cases, electronic is preferred since paper receipts can fade and become illegible over time. Scan and save all documents and always make backups just in case. Make sure to shred downloaded documents for security purposes – don’t just throw them away!

Because financial institutions all vary with record keeping time periods, be sure to check the terms of each account to see how long they keep historical records. Make sure to download and save annual statements before they disappear!

Lastly, keep in mind that you’ll need to keep originals for important documentation. These are things like property purchases or sales and any signed contracts.

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