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What to Keep - Individuals

A guide to retention of records for individuals

Keep Permanently

  • Adoption papers
  • Birth certificates
  • Citizenship papers
  • Death certificates
  • Detailed list of financial assets held (update as needed)
  • Dividend reinvestment records (or until sold + 7 years)
  • Divorce decrees (includes alimony and custody papers)
  • Estate planning documents (update as needed)
  • Forms W-2
  • Illness records
  • Investment property purchase records (or until sold + 7 years)
  • IRA annual reports
  • IRA nondeductible contributions (Form 8606)
  • Marriage certificate
  • Military discharge papers
  • Power of Attorney (update as needed)
  • Prenuptial papers
  • Real estate records
    • House records: canceled checks for purchase, major improvements and maintenance (or until sold + 7 years)
  • Retirement plan annual reports
  • Social security records
  • Stock/mutual fund purchases (or until sold + 7 years)
  • Tax returns -- complex
  • Trust agreements
  • Vaccination records
  • Year-end brokerage statements (or until sold + 7 years)

Keep according to statute of limitations

  • Automobile insurance (in case of late claims)
  • Homeowners' insurance (in case of late claims)
  • Liability insurance (in case of late claims)

Keep for seven years

  • Bank deposit slips
  • Bank statements
  • Canceled checks (if for a deductible item)
  • Certificate of deposit statements (after maturity)
  • Charitable contribution documentation
  • Contracts (until 7 years after completion)
  • Credit card statements/receipts (if for a deductible item)
  • Forms 1099
  • Insurance policies (after expiration)
  • Keogh statements/IRA records, deductible and nondeductible (after termination)
  • Loan agreements (for 7 years after payment)
  • Medical bills after payment
  • Receipts, diaries, logs pertaining to tax return
  • Schedule K-1s (after disposition)

Keep for three years

  • Expense reports

Various retention periods

  • Automobile title -- as long as you own auto
  • Copyrights/patents -- as long as in effect
  • Loan payment books -- until the loan is paid
  • Passports -- keep current
  • Paystub -- until W-2 is confirmed
  • Pension plan records -- generally keep current year only
  • Rental contracts -- as long as in effect
  • Safe deposit inventory -- update regularly
  • Safe deposit key -- as long as you keep the box
  • Wills/Letter of last instructions -- as long as valid
This is only a partial list, and should be used for informational purposes only. Baden, Gage & Schroeder is not liable for any oversight, omission or legal action resulting from the use of this list.

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