Do you know where your personal and financial documents are? Do you know how long to keep them? Proper record retention can save time and trouble. For example, an organized filing system can help you and your family find vital information in an emergency and simplify the tax preparation process.
Below is a list of important personal and financial documents, as well as a suggestion of where to keep them and for how long. Also consider investing in a shredder to discard these documents instead of simply tossing them in the trash.
For a longer list of items and more information, you can read our guide on data and record retention here.
|Birth, marriage and death certificates||Safe deposit box or fireproof home storage||Permanently|
|Will||Safe deposit box (if jointly rented); copy with spouse or executor||Until a new one is made|
|Living will; durable power of attorney for health care; values dialogue||Home file, safe deposit box, copies with agents, family members and primary physician||PermanentlyUpdate as needed|
|Passports||Safe deposit box or fireproof home storage||Until replaced|
|Social security card||Home file (locked)||Permanently|
|Employment records||Home file||Permanently|
|Stocks, bonds, securities; year-end brokerage statements; confirms and purchase records||Safe deposit box; listing in home file||Duration of ownership plus six years|
|Bank statements, check registers||Home file||Duration of ownership plus seven years|
|Trust agreements||Safe deposit box; copy in home file||Permanent|
|Charitable contribution deduction records||Home file||7 years after last reporting on tax return|
|Insurance policies, records of claims made and paid||Home file; list of policies in safe deposit box||Generally: life of policy plus three years. Check with company regarding liability for previous years.|
|Income tax returns with backup documents, such as receipts for deductible expenses, 1099 forms, W-2 forms, etc.||Fireproof home file||Minimum seven years after filing.|
|IRA and Keogh statements and records||Home file||Six years after termination|
|Loan records||Fireproof home file||Seven years after payoff|
|Medical bills||Home file||Six years after payment|