Top

Retention Guide

In our paperless society, the question of how long to hold on to important paper documents has been questionable for most people. Financial documents or other items of Personal Identifying are first to come to mind. You don't want anything with financial or personal information to get into the wrong hands but how long do you need to keep other important documents?

You do need to save certain documentation for financial and estate planning purposes and organize these documents for accessibility. Some documents you will keep until you pass. While sometimes it seems easier to hang on to everything, the clutter might make it difficult to locate important papers when the need arises. And, even with digital documents, you can still run out of space.

Read the guidelines below to help determine which documents to keep forever.

Business Records To Keep Forever

While federal guidelines do not require you to keep tax records "forever," in many cases there will be other reasons you'll want to retain these documents indefinitely.

  • Audit Reports from CPAs/Accountants
  • Canceled Checks for Important Payments (especially tax payments)
  • Cash Books, Charts of Accounts
  • Contracts, Leases Currently in Effect
  • Corporate Documents (incorporation, charter, by-laws, etc.)
  • Documents substantiating fixed asset additions
  • Deeds
  • Depreciation Schedules
  • Financial Statements (Year End)
  • General and Private Ledgers, Year-End Trial Balances
  • Insurance Records, Current Accident Reports, Claims, Policies
  • Investment Trade Confirmations
  • IRS Revenue Agents. Reports
  • Journals
  • Legal Records, Correspondence and Other Important Matters
  • Minutes Books of Directors and Stockholders
  • Mortgages, Bills of Sale
  • Property Appraisals by Outside Appraisers
  • Property Records
  • Retirement and Pension Records
  • Tax Returns and Worksheets
  • Trademark and Patent Registrations

Personal Records To Keep Forever

  • CPA Audit Reports
  • Legal Records
  • Important Correspondence
  • Income Tax Returns
  • Income Tax Payment Checks
  • Property Records / Improvement Receipts (or six years after property sold)
  • Investment Trade Confirmations
  • Retirement and Pension Records (Forms 5448, 1099-R and 8606 until all distributions are made from your IRA or other qualified plan)