United States
Staffed with 100% US Employees

How Long Should I Keep My Records?

December 10, 2012 by Ed Becker

As a follow up to my post on How Long Should I Keep My Accounting Records?, I am still receiving many questions on this topic.  This post will hopefully clarify some of your questions and provide more insight for our clients and followers.

Here are some sample examples and timelines for record retention.  Each person’s situation is different so consult with your CPA prior to discarding anything. For those clients that have been audited in the past, these rules may have exceptions so be safe and retain records if you’re not sure.

One Year

  • pay stubs
  • bank statements
  • utility bills
  • credit card receipts
  • canceled checks or mini pictures provided with bank statements

Seven Years

  • tax returns
  • brokerage statements
  • 1099’s, 1098’s
  • documentation for unusual items on tax return (large losses, casualty losses, inheritance, life insurance, large gains, etc)
  • some cancelled checks

Keep for Life

  • life insurance policies
  • wills
  • mortgage records, titles and deeds
  • health care proxies
  • estate plans

There are also some items that really have NO specific holding terms but they should be kept while you still maintain/hold these items:

  • warranties
  • property records
  • stock certificates, if actual certificates usually held by brokerage firm
  • insurance policies

Since scanning and saving documents is now becoming the norm for our clients, I suggest scanning important items, securing them with passwords and then storing them on your hard drive and also on an external storage device. At a minimum, store these in two places.

More posts to follow on this topic so stay tuned.  And of course, if you have questions or comments, I invite you to enter them below.

Related Posts