With signs of spring many of us turn our thoughts to cleaning our house, fixing up our yard and getting organized. One task that you’ve probably avoided is getting rid of all of the old documents and paperwork you have stored in folders and files.

Many of us avoid this clean-up because we don’t know what we should keep and for how long. Although there are certain documents you know you should keep forever – like birth certificates, social security cards and passports – there are many other documents that you probably keep around because you don’t know what else to do with them.

Many documents, such as bank, savings and credit card statements, are stored online so it’s not necessary to keep them around for very long. However, there are other important documents that you should have hard copies of and keep around longer.

There are some general guidelines for the documents you should keep filed away and how long you should keep them.

What important documents should you keep?

  • Home Purchase Records
    As long you own the property.
  • Vehicle Titles
    Keep as long as you have the car in your possession.
  • Social Security Statements
    Only keep most recent statement.
  • W2’s
    Keep for seven years after filing date.
  • Wills & Power of Attorney
    Keep most updated version.

If you have any questions on what legal documents you should keep, or if you get audited and need to provide records for your taxes, an attorney can be a great resource. An attorney can help you gather all the documents and receipts you need and give you guidance throughout the audit process.

This article is intended to provide you with general information. This article is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, legal advice. If you require legal advice, please consult with your own attorney.

Contains information from the Federal Trade Commission.