How long should you keep documents?

Do you ever wonder how long you should keep documents before you dispose of them?  Maureen Hook at the Hook Law Center provides some answers.

Here’s what Chase Bank recommends that you keep for the following periods of time:

One year – paycheck stubs, bills, credit card receipts, bank statements including cancelled checks. In some cases, a photocopy of the cancelled check attached to the bank statements has replaced the actual check, and this is perfectly acceptable. If needed for tax purposes, keep what is relevant for 7 years. An attorney, accountant, or financial advisor can make a recommendation for your particular circumstances.

Seven years – copies of monthly investment account statements, income tax returns, and any documents like receipts, cancelled checks, etc. that support income or tax deductions filed on tax returns and 1099 forms.

Hold while active – contracts, stock certificates, property tax records, warranties, disputed bills, pension and retirement plans, and home improvement records. Bills and records that are not needed for tax purposes can be disposed of as soon as you receive confirmation that your payment has been received and credited to your account. Receipts for important purchases like appliances should be kept for as long as you have the item in case you need to file a warranty claim.

Foreverwills, life insurance information, and mortgage data.

Many people are using digital technology as a way of keeping records forever without keeping paper.  Scanners that turn paper statements into electronic files are now available at very reasonable prices.  In addition, the major investment firms will retain electronic records of your statements and confirmations for up to 10 years.

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