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Managing Your Account

How Long Should You Keep Bills and Important Documents?

July 28, 2020

Keep for longer:

  • Tax returns: Keep your returns and associated supporting documents for at least seven years. Remember, the IRS can perform an audit up to six years after you file if it appears you’ve incorrectly reported your income.
  • Home-related documents: Retain purchase documents, home improvement records, permits and inspection documents for as long as you own the home.
  • Insurance policies: Hold onto to your policies for home/renters insurance, car insurance and umbrella insurance for the year. When you get a renewal, you can discard the old one. Keep your life, disability or long-term care policies as long as they’re in force.

Lifelong documents:

Invest in a firebox or a safety-deposit box for:

  • Birth certificates
  • Adoption records
  • Death certificates
  • Marriage and divorce papers
  • Military records
  • Wills, powers of attorney and health care proxies
  • Social Security cards
  • Passports
  • Appraisals for jewelry, art or other valuable property for as long as you own these items
  • An annually updated video of your home’s contents. This simple act can help with insurance claims in the event of a home fire or other disaster.

Remember to discard your important documents in a secure manner to avoid nightmares such as identity theft. If you are using digital storage, make sure you store these in a safe, secure and accessible place, such as a password-protected external hard drive.

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