One of my friends in the insurance business recently sent me an interesting article regarding what to save and what to shred. I thought it was worth repeating.

Under the category of what you should keep forever are:

  • marriage license, divorce and custody decrees
  • birth, adoption and death certificates
  • wills, trusts, financial and medical powers of attorney
  • passports and citizenship papers
  • military records

Photocopies or scanned images of legal papers may not be valid. Therefore you should store the originals of the above-mentioned documents in a fireproof container such as a refrigerator or safe deposit box.

Things you should keep while you own the asset:

  • property abstracts, mortgage documents, insurance policies and receipts for home improvements
  • vehicle titles, purchase for lease documents and auto insurance policies
  • receipts, warranty certificates and operating instructions for household items
  • stock certificates and retirement plan records

What should you keep for at least seven years?

  • tax records and supporting documentation.

However, the IRS will accept legible electronic records so you may be able to copy everything to a DVD or flash drive and store it with your other keep forever documents.

At my law office we keep copies of client records for at least 10 years. At this point if someone needs a document from the courthouse we can usually retrieve it whether it is in a hard copy or saved in some digital format.

The original information on what to keep and what to shred came from my friend and insurance professional, Seth Walizer.