Organizing Home Files:
What Kinds of Papers to Keep

When organizing home files, it's important to know what to let's look at what kinds of papers to file away.

(And always check with your tax preparer or accountant to make sure you're keeping what you need for tax purposes.)

Here is a general list of guidelines:

Documents to Keep Indefinitely:

  • Vital documents (birth, death, marriage, adoption, military, etc.)
  • Wills
  • Legal records, medical directives, power of attorney
  • Educational records (transcripts, diplomas)
  • Employment records (dates,company)
  • Medical history
  • Retirement and pension records
  • IRA Contribution records

Documents to Keep for 7 Years:

  • Income tax returns and related canceled checks/receipts (including charitable contributions, alimony, mortgage interest and retirement plan contributions)
  • Records for tax deductions taken
  • Other supporting documents for tax returns
  • Bank statements (keep those related to taxes, business expenses, home improvements and mortgage payments)
  • Accident reports and claims
  • Credit card statements (keep for 45 days to 7 years)

Documents to Keep for 1-3 Years:

  • Expired insurance policies
  • Medical bills (in case of insurance disputes)
  • Utility records
  • Car records (keep until the car is sold)
  • Credit card receipts (keep until verified on your statement)
  • Dividend receipts (keep until annual statement, then just annual statement)
  • Insurance policies (keep for the life of the policy, plus three to seven years in case of late claims)
  • Inventory receipts (major items as long as owned)
  • Mortgages/deeds/leases (keep six years beyond the agreement)
  • Other bills (keep until payment is verified on the next bill)
  • Pay stubs (keep until reconciled with your W-2)
  • Property records/improvement receipts (keep until property sold, plus seven years if tax-related)
  • Sales receipts (keep for life of the warranty)
  • Stock and bond records (keep for six years beyond selling)
  • Warranties and instructions (keep for the life of the product)

When you are organizing home files, know what to keep and what to toss, to make your organizing a lot easier!

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