One of the questions clients ask quite often is “What records do I need to save?” While you certainly receive plenty of documents in the mail that you can toss, recycle or use for kindling, there are definitely a few that you need to hang onto.

With that being said, here are some important docs that you may want to file away or keep in your fireproof safe:

  • Monthly account statements – keep a binder with the previous 12 months and replace as you go. For instance, when the November 2020 statement comes, replace the November 2019 statement.
  • Annual account statements – hold onto the last 5 years
  • Life Insurance statements – keep the previous 5 years
  • Life Insurance Policy – if the policy is in force, keep it.
  • Annuity statements – keep your initial purchase contract and your annual statements for the life of the policy
  • Copies of new account forms – Once you verify the accuracy of the info feel free to discard. However, I would make certain to remove the beneficiary decree and keep that for the life of the account
  • 401k statements – keep annual statements for the previous 5 years
  • Tax returns – This really depends on what type of return you are filing. If you are taking an itemized deduction, I would store them for 7 years from the date of filing. If you take a standard deduction feel free to let them go after 5 years.

Other items I would keep in the fireproof safe are:

  • Social Security Cards
  • Birth Certificates
  • Auto Titles
  • Adoption Papers
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Trust Documents
  • Property Deeds
  • Savings Bonds
  • Passports

While this list is a good start, it isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of everything you keep. Always err on the side of caution before getting rid of a document. You would much rather have a few extra documents in your safe vs. not having the important one when you most need it.