Personal Records Retention Policies

Good recordkeeping can make your life easier. While record retention policies are often geared towards businesses, your personal files should also be kept safe and well organized. When creating your retention policy, you should consider state and federal statutes of limitations and use individual judgment. Most of us fall into one of two categories: save everything forever, or securely destroy everything as soon as possible. A better solution requires a well thought out and periodically revisited plan.

*The following are suggested personal record retention policies. Always check with your lawyer and accountant to ensure no special rules apply to your records and plan an annual file cleanout to shred all expired documents.

Shred Immediately:

  • Credit Card and Utility Bills
  • Sales Receipts not related to taxes
  • Expired Warranties

Shred After 1 Year:

  • Bank Statements
  • Pay Stubs
  • Medical Bills

Shred After 7 Years:

  • Tax-Related Receipts
  • Canceled Checks
  • W-2’s
  • Records for Tax Deductions

Keep Forever:

  • Tax Returns
  • Birth/Death Certificates
  • Social Security Card
  • Citizenship Paperwork/Passports
  • Marriage/Divorce Papers
  • Adoption Papers

How To Protect Personal Records

To mitigate the risk of identity theft, protecting your personal data is imperative. Protect yourself by regularly cleaning out old records and securely shredding them in a timely manner.

Unpredictable threats like flooding, hurricanes, break-ins or house fires make keeping a backup of your records imperative. You should maintain physical copies of your important documents in a secondary location, or store digital copies securely online. In the event of an unexpected disaster, having access to your important files will be a powerful lifeline

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