How Long Should You Keep Documents?


Quick Answer

How long an individual should keep documents depends on what the documents are and whether he receives an updated document on a regular basis. It is wise to keep all important documents for a minimum of one to three years. Others should be kept permanently.

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Full Answer

Documents such as birth certificates, military service records, education records and marriage licenses should be kept for life. Bank statements should be kept for at least a year if they aren't needed for taxes, and tax records should be kept for seven years from the day they were filed.

Monthly investment statements should be destroyed, while yearly investment statements should be kept until the investment has been successfully sold. Credit card statements should be held onto until they've been fully paid, while insurance documents should be kept until the policy has been updated.

Any documents that are filed should be those that are frequently used, such as bank statements and warranties. Such documents should be kept in a waterproof and fireproof safe or a safety deposit box outside the home. Any documents that are difficult to replace, such as birth certificates, passports and automobile titles, should have a secondary storage space in the event that the original copies are ever lost, stolen or destroyed.

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