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What to Keep and What to Shred

Our clients often ask which records they should keep for what period of time. Some have every bill they ever paid. Some keep nothing. Most of us are somewhere in between, with documents spread in piles all around the house, on the coffee table, home office, safe and safety deposit box – and these days, many of us are scanning to electronic files that we keep on services such as Box or Dropbox.

One good thing about going through the process of estate planning is gathering all of the important documents about your life in one place: important information about your children, copies of your military discharge papers, deeds, titles, life insurance and annuity policies, statements from bank accounts and so forth. Once you have the basic set of documents, particularly the permanent items, it’s easier for you – and eventually for those who need them if you are ill or at your death. Of course, you can’t stop at one-time organization – you need to revisit and refresh your records. 

We revisit these documents periodically when our clients come in for a review of their Estate Plan.

So what should you keep? Like so many other things, the real answer is – it depends. The SEC put together the following infographic to help you get started sorting through your piles of stuff to make sense of what to shred, scan or store.