A Document’s Life: What to keep and what to trash

Happy New Year! I hope 2014 is a prosperous and purposeful year for you; a year for new beginnings. I am beginning the new year with a new legal assistant because my previous assistant, Linda, has retired after being with me for 5 years. Stop by to say hello to Mary, my new assistant; I am sure you will like her.

Maybe you have made a New Years resolution to get organized or get rid of some clutter. As an attorney, I create a lot of paperwork and I review a lot of paperwork. Clients often ask me how long to keep certain documents and how often they should review certain others. The following is a list of my recommendations.

LEGAL PAPERS 
Document Retention period Review after
Wills never destroy original changes in circumstances or finances
Powers of Attorney never destroy original named agents move or die
Living Will  never destroy original  changes in the law or your wishes
Trusts  never destroy original  changes in circumstances or finances
Guardianship  never destroy original  death or majority of any party
Conservatorship  never destroy original  death of any party
Birth Certificates  never destroy original  no need to review
Death Certificates  never destroy original  no need to review
Adoption papers  never destroy original  no need to review
Citizenship papers  never destroy original  no need to review
Naturalization Cert.  never destroy original  no need to review
Marriage Certificate  never destroy original  no need to review
Divorce Decree  never destroy original  no need to review
Military Discharge  never destroy original  no need to review
Social Security Card  never destroy original  no need to review
Passport  never destroy original  update periodically
TAX RECORDS
Document Retention period Review after
Bank statements keep for 7 years no need to review
Canceled checks keep for 7 years no need to review
Credit card stmt. keep for 7 years no need to review
Home purchase
or improvement
keep for 7 years no need to review
Tax returns keep for 7 years no need to review
PROPERTY RECORDS
Document Retention period Review after
 Household inventory  Keep indefinitely update periodically
 Photos of property  Keep indefinitely update periodically
 Cemetery deeds  never destroy original no need to review
 Real estate deeds  public document no need to review
 Retirement plans  never destroy original review near retirement
 Stock/bonds  never destroy original review near retirement
 Vehicle titles  never destroy original no need to review
FINANCIAL RECORDS
Document Retention period Review after
Annuity contracts  7 years after paid out review periodically till paid out
Loan agreements  7 years after paid  review as needed
Investment stmt.  7 years min.  review as needed
MEDICAL RECORDS
Health records
 keep copies  no need to review
Immunization records  keep copies  no need to review
 OTHER
Document  Retention period  Review after
 Diplomas  never destroy original  no need to review
 Insurance policies  never destroy original  review as needed
 Property tax stmt.  Public record  review as needed
 Warranties  destroy if replaced/sold  review as needed

This article was written by Tamra K Waltemath of Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C.  This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  For specific questions, you should consult a qualified attorney.  Tamra K. Waltemath is an elder law attorney focusing on wills, trusts, estate and trust administration, probate and non-probate transfers, guardianships and conservatorships.  She can be contacted at:  Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C., 3843 West 73rd Avenue, Westminster, CO  80030; 303-657-0360; or visit her website at: www.WaltemathLawOffice.com.


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