Weekend Reading: Client Checklist on Document Retention: What do Keep and What to Shred

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
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Weekend Reading

When it comes to clearing out those files in your cabinet, knowing what should be kept on hand and what can be shredded isn’t always clear-cut. To add to the confusion, some documents need to remain in physical copy form, while others can be scanned and kept in digital copy form. Read the article from Kitces below.


Take inventory: If you’re looking for clarity, a simple checklist can help provide guidance, and one of my favorite financial bloggers, Michael Kitces, published one here for reference. Some items to keep in mind include:

📌Households should retain copies of income tax returns for about six years (can be stored digitally), as well as any other supporting documents that were used to arrive at the figures📌

How long and in what form to keep healthcare documents and medical expense receipts depends on the context they were utilized for (as an example, a Medicare summary notice should be retained for at least one year)

📌Key legal documents, such as a living Will, beneficiary designation forms, and general and healthcare Powers of Attorney, should be kept permanently and in physical copy form

📌Documents relating to assets and liabilities, such as real estate/ownership records, credit cards, and mortgages, should be retained for as long as the asset is owned (or owed)

For quick reference: This article has it all, but if you’re looking for a simple chart, jump to the end of the post and you’ll have everything you might ever need to reduce the file clutter.