Below are our recommendations concerning saving/disposing of paperwork:


How long to keep

Where to keep

Birth and Death Certificates


Safe Deposit box (1)

Estate Planning Documents

Until replaced with completely new documents,

Destroy old documents! (4)

Fire proof box in your home (2)

Life Insurance Policies

Until expired

Fire proof box in your home

Loan Documents

After you sell your home, automobile, boat, etc

In your home (5)

Marriage License and Divorce Decree


Safe Deposit Box (replacement divorce decrees may be obtained from probate court)

Military Discharge Papers


Safe Deposit Box

Social Security Card


In your home (replacement may be obtained from Social Security Administration but with some difficulty)

Vehicle Titles


In your home (replacements may be obtained from Registry of Motor Vehicles)

Bank Deposit Slips

After you reconcile your statements

In your home

Bank statements

With your tax returns for 7 years if needed to prove deductions

In your home

Brokerage, 401(k) Keogh and other investment statements

Shred after the new statement arrives, hold annual statements until you sell the investments

In your home

Credit Card Bills

After payment, unless you need them to support deductions on your tax return

In your home

Employer-defined benefit retirement plan communications


In your home

Household warranties and receipts

Hold until you no longer own the item

In your home

Insurance Policies

After you renew them

In your home

Investment purchase confirmations and 1099s

Hold them with your tax records for 7 years

In your home

Pay stubs

Until you reconcile them with your W-2

In  your home


Until you reconcile them with your credit card or bank statements unless needed for a warranty or a tax deductions

In your home

Savings Bonds

Until Liquidated

Safe Deposit Box

Social Security Statement

One year

In your home

Monthly bills (electric bills, telephone bills)

Until paid

In your home

Tax Returns and supporting documentation

Supporting documentation for 7 years, tax returns forever

In your home (3)

Receipts for Capital Improvements to your home

Until you sell the house and file the tax return for the year of sale

In your home


(1) Make an annual inventory of your safe deposit box and keep it in your house with your other records.  Be sure someone other than you and your house is authorized to enter your safe deposit box.

(2) We do not recommend that you keep any burial instructions in your safe deposit box because of the risk that they may not be discovered until it is too late.

(3) Although there is a 7 year statute of limitations for auditing tax returns, there is no statute of limitations for fraud.  Therefore it is a good idea to keep your actual tax returns forever in case of an allegation of fraud.

(4) It is important to destroy revoked documents to avoid confusion.

(5) Be sure to shred documents if they contain any personal or financial information.