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10 Documents Not to Throw Away

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10 Documents Not to Throw Away

By Sheri Samotin,

If you’re like most people, you have boxes and boxes of old files cluttering your closets. You’d like to clean out but don’t know what you need to keep, and for how long. As a daily money manager and Certified Professional Coach, I often get this question from my clients.

I’ve covered the most common documents below, but when in doubt don’t throw it out unless you are sure you can obtain the records electronically from the bank, insurance company, etc.

A Caregiver’s Guide to Managing Your Elderly Parent’s Investments

These recommendations apply to both caregivers and their elderly parents’ paperwork.

Tax returns and supporting documents

Anything to do with taxes should be kept for at least seven years. The IRS has three years from your filing date to audit your return if it suspects good faith errors and you have the same amount of time to file an amended return if you find a mistake. However, the IRS has six years to challenge your return if it thinks you underreported your income by 25 percent or more. If you fail to file a return or filed a fraudulent return, there is no limit on when the IRS can come after you. Specific items you should keep in addition to your tax returns themselves include documentation of income, alimony, charitable contributions, mortgage interest, and retirement plan contributions and any other tax deductions taken.

Medical bills and records

Keep all medical bills and supporting documentation such as canceled checks or credit card statements until you are sure that the bill has been acknowledged as having been paid in full by you and/or your insurance company. If you are deducting unreimbursed medical expenses on your tax return, keep all supporting documentation as discussed above. Remember to keep all health-related bills including dental, eyeglasses or contact lenses, hearing aids, and over-the-counter medications, to name a few.

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Important Paperwork: What to Keep and For How Long originally appeared on

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2:06PM PST on Nov 29, 2012


6:56PM PST on Feb 12, 2012

I apparently keep way too much!! I guess better to keep it than to throw it away and need it later...

1:07AM PST on Jan 26, 2012

Good to know -- thank you.

7:31PM PST on Jan 25, 2012

The safe is a good idea. It's a good idea to keep things such as a passport, birth certificate, etc and any will or living will in there too.

6:13PM PST on Jan 25, 2012


12:26PM PST on Jan 25, 2012

Thinking about it. I would add ID info, will and medical directives in a prominent accessible place.

12:21PM PST on Jan 25, 2012

great guide.

9:11AM PST on Jan 25, 2012

If you can get a small 'fire-safe', they aren't too expensive and will protect those documents that are important to you in event of a fire and will also keep them tidy. We find room for other bits and bobs that we'd hate to lose in the event of a fire.

2:50AM PST on Jan 25, 2012

Thanks for the information.

9:03PM PST on Jan 24, 2012

Excellent, EXCELLENT article full of timely and wise advice. Thank you from the fullness of my heart.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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