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Shred It? or Keep It?

Personal Record Retention Guidelines Is your file cabinet bulging with another year’s worth of tax documents? Are you keeping every single bill, tax return, insurance invoice, medical documentation, contract and even the warranty for that 15-year-old coffee maker you don’t even own anymore?

If you answered, "yes" to any of these questions then you are not alone. Many people are not sure how long to retain their financial records.

Identity Theft: With the threat of identity theft coming largely from paper documents it is good practice is to shred all the records you should no longer retain, especially those with your personal information. Expired documents can pose a threat to your financial health and may not provide you with any useful information.

At least once a year you should go through your files and shred everything that is no longer needed.

When it comes to personal records retention guidelines, there aren't any hard and fast rules but these are some basic guidelines for the retention of your personal records.

Start by checking your drawers (home and work), filing cabinets, folders, boxes, glove compartments, even your safe deposit box for all documents. Then separate the papers into these five groups:

 

1. Originals you rarely need

Store in:

Shred after:

Give copies to:

Adoption papers

Bank safety deposit box

Never discard

Executor, lawyer

Citizenship papers

Bank safety deposit box

Never discard

Executor

Divorce decree

Bank safety deposit box

Never discard

Lawyer

Lawsuits

Bank safety deposit box

Never discard

Lawyer

Household inventory

Bank safety deposit box

Never discard

Financial advisor

Photos of possessions

Bank safety deposit box

Never discard

Financial advisor

Military discharge

Bank safety deposit box

Never discard

Never discard

Veteran’s papers

Bank safety deposit box

Never discard

Never discard

 

2. Originals you sometimes need

 

Store in:

 

Shred after:

 

Give copies to:

Birth certificate

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Never discard

 

Cemetery deed

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Never discard

Heir

Real Estate Deeds

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Ten years after property is sold

 

Death certificates

Locked filing cabinet

Never discard

Executor

Diplomas

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Never discard

 

Guardianship arrangements

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Never discard

Executor, guardian

Health records

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Never discard

Doctor

Immunization records

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Never discard

Doctor

Marriage certificates

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Never discard

Executor

Medical directive

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

New one signed

Doctor, heir

Naturalization Certification

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Never discard

 

Passports

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

It expires

 

Powers of attorney

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

New one signed

Doctor, heir

Retirement plan benefits

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Never discard

Financial advisor

Social Security card

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Never discard

 

Stock/bond certificates

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

When sold

 

Vehicle titles

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Vehicle is sold

 

Trusts

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

New one signed

Executor, heir

Wills

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

New one signed

Executor, heir

  

3. Other Documents

Store in:

Shred after:

Give copies to:

College financial aid

Locked filing cabinet

Ten years after loan is repaid

 

Credit report

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

New one arrives

Financial advisor

Document inventory (this list)

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

You create a new list

Executor

Employee benefits

Locked filing cabinet

Change jobs

 

Employment contract

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Change jobs

 

Financial statements

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

New ones drafted

 

Insurance policies/invoices

Locked filing cabinet

A year after replacing policy

Financial advisor

Letter of last instructions

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

After writing a new one

Executor

Loan statements

Locked filing cabinet

Ten years after loan is repaid

 

Passwords

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Change password

 

Property tax assessment

Locked filing cabinet

New one arrives

 

Receipts (items under warranty)

Locked filing cabinet

Warranty expires

 

Receipts (expensive items)

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Item sold or donated

 

Safe deposit box inventory

Fire and burglar resistant safe at home

Updated

Executor

Social Security statement

Locked filing cabinet

New one arrives

Financial advisor

Transcripts

Locked filing cabinet

You complete another course

 

Vehicle registration

Locked filing cabinet

New one arrives

 

Vehicle repairs

Locked filing cabinet

Vehicle is sold

 

Warranties*

Locked filing cabinet

Dispose of item

 

*Note: staple receipts to warranties

4. Tax Documents

Store in:

Shred after:

Give copies to:

Bank statements

Locked filing cabinet

Seven years

 

Canceled checks

Locked filing cabinet

Seven years

 

Credit card statements

Locked filing cabinet

Seven years

 

Home purchase/improvement*

Locked filing cabinet

Seven years after home is sold

 

Tax return/supporting documents

Locked filing cabinet

Seven years after filing date

 

Form 8606

Locked filing cabinet

Seven years after IRA is liquidated

 

*Deeds, surveys, title policies, blueprints, loan papers, receipts, etc.

5. Investment Documents

Store in:

Shred after:

Give copies to:

Annuity contracts

Locked filing cabinet

Annuity paid out

Financial advisor

Loan agreements

Locked filing cabinet

Ten years after loan is repaid

 

Pension plan documents

Locked filing cabinet

Never discard

Financial advisor

Real Estate purchase/improvements

Locked filing cabinet

Seven years after property is sold

 

Investment account statements

Locked filing cabinet

Seven years after last investment held in account is sold

 

 

Usher Financial Group a Division of American Pacific Mortgage Corporation NMLS #1850 #1053700  NMLS #41721
5335 Meadows RD STE 110, Lake Oswego, OR  97035
Toll Free:  (800) 481-6036
Office:  (503) 595-1600
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Usher Financial a Division of American Pacific Mortgage Corporation NMLS 1850 Branch NMLS 1053700
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