What to Keep and When to Shred after death
These documents should be located and kept until the estate is settled:
• Adoption papers
• Baptismal certificates
• Birth certificates
• Death certificates
• Divorce orders
• Employment records
• Ethical will
• Marriage certificates
• Medical records
• Military records (DD 214)
• Retirement and pension records
• Social Security cards
• Wills and codicils
These documents should be stored until it is time to be shredded:
• Bank statements: Keep for one year after tax returns are filed.
• Bills/sales receipts: Keep receipts for high-value items to prove the value for inventory purposes. Keep receipts for any tax- or warranty-related items for one year. All other bills should be shredded as soon as they have been paid.
• Credit card statements: Shred unless tax-related. If tax-related, keep for seven years.
• Home improvement receipts: Keep until the home is sold; they are important for tax purposes when establishing the cost basis of the home.
• Homeowners’ insurance policy: Keep until the home is sold.
• Investment records/IRA statements/brokerage statements: Keep for seven years after your loved one’s death and after the account is closed. Keep quarterly statements until you get an annual statement; then compare the statements and shred the quarterly ones.
• Leases: Keep until the property is vacated and you have received the security deposit back from the landlord.
• Life insurance policy: Keep until the policy is paid plus three years.
• Mortgage statements: Keep until the mortgage is paid off plus seven years.
• Passport: Shred.
• Paychecks/pay stubs: Keep for one year or until the last W-2 is received.
• Tax returns and related documents: Keep for seven years, including all accompanying documents such as W-2s and receipts.
• Vehicle records: Keep until the car, boat, or motorcycle is sold.
Source ABA/AARP Checklist for Family Survivors
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