Know How Long To Keep Financial Documents

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,692
    Wells Fargo financial expert Sherry Littlejohn discusses how long you should save important financial documents.

    Sherry Littlejohn: Hi! I'm Sherry Littlejohn with Wells Fargo and Company. Today we're discussing how long you should keep important documents. Some key records and documents need to be saved for even years, some for ten years, and others need to be kept permanently.

    It's always a good idea to hold onto documents containing vital or personal information. Anything from receipts and warrantees to tax filings and marriage certificates should be kept in a safe and secure place with easy access in the future. Once you no longer need a document, make sure you shred it. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States and a $30 shredder is a fairly inexpensive insurance policy against identity theft and fraud. And just to be sure, check your credit report regularly.

    The law entitles you to one free credit report from each of the three reporting agencies each year. Seven years is the limit to keep many financial and tax documents.

    Here are some examples of the type of documents you should hang on to for seven years: bank statements and canceled checks, credit card statements, tax receipts, and tax returns.

    But the seven year rule doesn't apply to all financial documents. Home purchase and home improvement receipts need to be retained for ten years after the home is sold. If you have paid off any student loans, you need to make sure you keep your financial aid and your student loan papers ten years after being repaid.

    Many legal documents must be kept permanently. These include birth certificates, marriage certificates, and citizenship papers. Other legal records need to be kept until they are replaced by a new one. These include powers of attorney, trusts, and wills. Vehicle titles and warrantees should be retained until the vehicle is sold or otherwise replaced.

    The same is true for other types of warrantees. Personal property tax receipts should be kept for two years and if you're unsure about how long to keep a document, then it's a good idea just to hold onto it.