Financial Documents: What to Keep and What to Toss

Keep these financial documents in a box or file cabinet at home:
  • The last 7 years of your tax returns (state and federal)
With each year’s tax return, keep:
  • W-2 forms
  • Income statements from your bank and mutual funds (called a 1099)
  • Canceled checks for deductible expenditures.
  • Bank statements and canceled checks for 3 years
  • Insurance policies, including car, health, life, rental and/or homeowners insurance
  • Pension plan or retirement plan statements
  • Mutual fund or other investment annual statements
  • An inventory of the things you own, or at least records of major purchases
  • Password list for important accounts (store in a secure location)
  • Inventory list of items in your safety deposit box or locked box (see below)
  • List of bank/credit union, and credit card accounts
  • Loan Statements and payment books
Keep these in a safety deposit box or a locked fireproof box:
  • The deed to your home or other property you own
  • The title to your car
  • Birth, marriage and death certificates, passports and Social Security Cards
  • Divorce and property settlement papers
  • The original copy of your will, with another copy at home
  • Leases
  • Stocks and bonds (if you own the original certificates)
  • Military discharge papers
  • Powers of attorney/Advance directives
What to Toss/Shred:
  • Canceled checks or nondeductible expenses, after 3 years
  • Expired warranties
  • Pay stubs, after reconciling W2
  • Bank statements – after 1 year, unless needed to support tax filing
  • Investment Statements – shred monthly statements; keep annual statements until you sell the investments

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