Shred or Keep by Cena Block Sane

The most difficult part of cleaning out your files is determining what to keep and what to shred. To help in your decision making, we suggest you ask yourself the following questions:

Does this document contain information I will need some day?

Will I ever need the document to defend a tax deduction, contract or warranty claim?

As you tackle this year’s filing cleaning, we have provided some general guidance for how long you should retain certain documents. If you have specific questions about a document, we recommend you check with your accountant and/or attorney first.
Toss Now

As a general rule, documents which do not have a tax impact or represent important assets do not have to be maintained and can be shredded once they have been verified and reconciled.

Examples include:

    Credit card statements and receipts
    Investment confirmations once they have been verified with investment statement
    Deposit and ATM receipts
    Cancelled checks and bank statements (be sure to keep those for major purchases and tax deductions)
    Medical Bills/Insurance Payments
    Utility bills – recommend keeping one, to provide easy access to account number and contact information
    Pay stubs

As Long As You Need It

Documents relating to purchases, improvements and tax returns for important assets, like real estate, should be kept until the asset is sold plus three years.

 Records relating to investments, IRAs and retirement plans should be kept until the transaction has been fully completed and/or all funds have been withdrawn (if your annual brokerage statements list the year’s transactions, there is no need to keep monthly or quarterly statements)

Insurance contracts and beneficiary designations should be maintained as long as they are still in effect

Warranties for appliances and vehicles should be kept as long as an item is still owned

Keep Forever

    Adoption and child custody records
    Certificates, birth, marriage, death
    Citizenship or Naturalization documents
    Family health and immunization records
    Legal documents, wills powers of attorney
    Receipts for major purchases
    Real Estate deeds and titles
    Separation and/or divorce records
    Social Security cards