What Records to Keep and How Long to Keep Them

Reblogger Al Raymondi
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Ocean View Realty Group in Ormond By The Sea Florida BK559597
https://activerain.com/droplet/cM4

Roy Kelley has provided a recap of record keeping requirements.  Even though spring cleaning time has passed we can still get in there and toss some old stuff we no longer need.  And pack away the stuff we need to keep longer.

Original content by Roy Kelley 16766
 

What Records to Keep and How Long to Keep Them

Digging through piles of records can be a frustrating task. It can take only one search to find something to raise the question: "Do I really need to keep all these documents?" While the answer may be "No," one must be careful about discarding old records.

Before you do a complete cleaning and shredding all the documents in your filing cabinet, however, please note that it is important for you to retain certain documents. Shredding old records will help protect you against identity theft, but disposing of too much can leave you unprotected. While there are no firm rules on record retention, the following information can be used as a guide to help you in determining what documents you should keep and how long you should keep them:

ATM Receipts: These should be kept only until you balance your checkbook. After that, shred them.

Bank Statements: You don't need to keep your bank statements. The only exception is if you are applying for a mortgage, and even then you need only a three month history.

Credit Card Statements: These should be kept for only the past three months. Credit card statements merely reflect the charges to your card, and your credit card company can reproduce these reports if you need them.

Financial and Investment Documents: Investments often result in receiving vast amounts of mail, such as prospectuses, privacy notices, and address confirmations. If you don't plan on acting on this information, get rid of it. You need to retain balance statements for only the past three months. Any time you purchase a new investment, however, you should retain the transaction record until you sell the investment and complete your income tax return. In addition, you may want to keep any benefit information if it would be helpful to you in determining your future benefits.

Home Insurance: Retain home insurance documents for a minimum of five years; however, if there is any question that issues may arise in the future, then keep these records for ten years. Insurance companies do keep this information, but you should not rely solely on them to provide it.

Home Repair Bills: The general rule is to keep these records for ten years. This should adequately protect you should litigation or other disputes arise that are connected to the repairs or workmanship. If there is a lien on the property connected with the work or repairs, then make sure to obtain a satisfaction of lien from the contractor and keep that document as long as you own the property.

Life Insurance Policies: Life insurance policies should be kept for the duration of the policy, plus an additional three years.

Medical Records: Personal health records, such as medical history, contact information of personal physicians, and prescribed treatments and prescriptions, should be kept indefinitely. All other medical records, however, such as premium statements, physician or hospital bills, copies of prescriptions, only need to be kept for five years after treatment has ended, unless you have claimed items on your tax returns, in which case the supporting documents should be kept for seven years.

Mortgage Documents: You should keep mortgage documents for the duration of the mortgage. Once you have paid off the mortgage, the bank must record a satisfaction of the mortgage. Keep the record of satisfaction as long as you own the property.

Pay Stubs: If your pay stubs contain the history of all the past pay stubs for the year, then you need to keep only the most recent one. If they don't provide payment history, then keep all pay stubs until you receive an overview statement at the end of the year. After you receive the overview statement, you may discard all previous pay stubs. Please note that pay stubs contain all the information an identity thief needs to steal your identity. Therefore, dispose of these cautiously, preferably by shredding them.

Tax Returns: The general rule is to keep tax returns, whether business or personal, for seven years. Thus, when you file a new return, you may shred the one no longer needed. Although the IRS has three years to audit you after you file your income tax return, there are several exceptions to this rule, and it is better to be safe than sorry. Further, it is important to save all the information used in preparing your returns, for it is up to you to provide this information if you are audited or asked related questions.

Utility Bills: You need to keep your utility bills for only the last three months. If you write off on your income tax return anything contained in these records, then you should keep these documents as tax records.

 
 

 
 

Speakers

If you are interested in having an Elder Law attorney from The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. speak at an event, then please call us at:

Maryland (301) 214-2229
Virginia (703) 243-3200
Washington DC (202) 223-0270

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.lifecareplanning.com.

Visit us on the world wide web

Our websites contain information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. and an archive of our newsletters and other estate planning, estate administration, and elder law articles and resources.

http://www.lifecareplanning.com

Distribution of This Newsletter

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Elder Law News, then please e-mail us at office@lifecareplanning.com, telephone us at (703) 243-3200, or fax us at 703-841-9102.

This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Oast & Hook for their input to this newsletter.

Copyright © 2006-11 by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

 

  Blooming for you this summer!

We represent home buyers and sellers as their exclusive agents in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC and nearby counties. Your Real Estate Professionals In Maryland.

Roy Kelley
Roy Kelley & Associates
Associate Broker, RE/MAX Realty Group 

Client Assistance:  301-670-8996  Home Search Website: www.roykelley.com 

Follow me on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/roykelley  

Recipient of the RE/MAX International Lifetime Achievement Award - 2008

close

This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At

Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
925,849
Ron Marshall
Marshall Enterprises - Saint Michael, MN
Birdhouse Builder Extraordinaire

I think I have something similar in my bookmarks about this from last fall.  But, I think I will print this off and keep it as a hard copy.   Thanks, Al.

Jun 21, 2011 03:19 PM #1
Rainmaker
694,665
Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi Al,

With all this information I would need an office storage space just to keep everything that was mentioned.

Thanks for the re post.

Clint McKie

Jun 21, 2011 11:27 PM #2
Rainmaker
1,101,276
Al Raymondi
Ocean View Realty Group in Ormond By The Sea Florida - Ormond Beach, FL
Ormond By The Sea Florida - Home and Condo Sales

Thanks for dropping in to comment today Clint and Ron.  Following the guidelines for records retention  really is important for everyone since not having the back-up documentation can cost us in the future.  We can hope that we will never need the old documents but best to keep them just in case.  The re*blog is to help get the word out to more people.

Jun 21, 2011 11:38 PM #3
Rainmaker
5,461,353
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks for the re-blog. Most of us keep too much paperwork.  Have an outstanding day!

Blooming for you!

Jun 22, 2011 12:23 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,101,276
Al Raymondi
Ocean View Realty Group in Ormond By The Sea Florida - Ormond Beach, FL
Ormond By The Sea Florida - Home and Condo Sales

Too much paperwork is correct Roy.  The key is keeping the RIGHT paperwork.

Jun 22, 2011 01:03 AM #5
Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?

Rainmaker
1,101,276

Al Raymondi

Ormond By The Sea Florida - Home and Condo Sales
Come live by the beach in Ormond By The Sea Florida
*
*
*
*
Spam prevention

Additional Information