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Personal Records Retention
   



 

Personal Records Retention

What to Keep

We tend not to think much about keeping important papers - that is, until an emergency occurs or the Internal Revenue Service comes calling!

Keeping good records is important because:

• Records help in estate settlement and insurance or benefit claims
• Death, fire or theft may call for records to establish ownership
• Records help substantiate income tax deductions.
• If someone makes a mistake or official records are destroyed, your records may be needed.
• Your past records can help you plan future spending and keep tabs on your current and past financial situation.
• Records could shorten the time it takes to collect insurance, military benefits, veteran's benefits or an income tax refund.
• And much more!

Here is a list of records you should keep as well as where you should keep them and how long you should keep them. Note: This information is from “Family Records: What to Keep Where and For How Long,” by the North Dakota State University Extension Service, Fargo, N.D."

Guide For Family Records

Item Where  How Long
PERSONAL and FAMILY    
Birth, marriage and death certificates Safe deposit box or fireproof home storage Permanently
Adoption and custody papers Safe deposit box or fireproof home storage Permanently
Citizenship papers Safe deposit box or fireproof home storage Permanently
Divorce and separation papers Safe deposit box or fireproof home storage Permanently
Settlement agreements Safe deposit box or fireproof home storage Permanently
Military papers Safe deposit box or fireproof home storage Permanently
Will Signed original with probate division of circuit court or safe deposit box (if jointly rented); copy in home file As long as in effect
Advance directive (living will/durablepower of attorney for health care) Home File, Safe deposit box and copies with agents and family members Permanently
(update as needed)
Passports Home storage or safe deposit box Until replaced
Social security card Carry card; stub in home storage Permanently
Diplomas, transcripts Home storage or safe deposit box Permanently
Medical history Home file Permanently
(update as needed)
Employment records Home file Permanently
Inventory of valuable papers and advisors Home file; copy with trusted family member or friend Permanently (update
at least annually)

   

Guide For Family Records

Item Where How Long
PROPERTY    
Real property deeds, title papers, abstracts, mortgage and other lien documents (include rental property) Safe deposit box Duration of ownership or longer if needed for tax purposes
Burial lot deed Safe deposit box Duration of ownership
Tax assessment notices, purchase contracts, records of capital improvements (include rental property) Safe deposit box Duration of ownership or longer if needed for tax purposes
Motor vehicle titles, purchase receipts and licenses Safe deposit box Duration of ownership
Records of auto service/repair Home file Duration of ownership
Jewelry and other valuable items Safe deposit box if safety of family may be threatened if kept in home Duration of ownership
Inventory of household goods and appraisals (include rental property) Safe deposit box; copy in home file Permanent (update at least once a year)
Auto insurance card and registration In vehicle (required by North Dakota State law) Current only

         

Guide For Family Records

Item Where How Long
FINANCIAL    
Stocks, bonds and other securities Safe deposit box; listing in home file Duration of ownership or longer if needed for tax purposes (usually up to six years)
Bank accounts, account registers and statements Home file Duration of ownership or longer if needed for tax purposes (usually up to six years)
Canceled checks Home file for non-tax deductible expenditures Three years minimum
Savings certificates Safe deposit box; listing in home file Duration of ownership or longer if needed for tax purposes (usually six years)
List of credit cards, credit contracts, agreements, records of credit payments and account statements Home file Duration of account or obligation or longer if needed for tax purposes (usually six years)
Insurance policies and records of claims made and paid Home file; list of policies in safe deposit box Permanently (update as needed)
Copies of past tax returns Home file Six years minimum
Receipts and records of deductible expenses, income and tax payments Home file (current); fireproof home storage after filing of taxes Six years minimum


 
 


   

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