What papers do I really need to keep? I get this question all the time. The easy answer is not much. These days with everything online and even the IRS accepting scanned documents, let it go.
Things you absolutely should keep permanently: Birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, social security cards and military discharge papers.. Keep wills, trusts and powers of attorney and health care proxies. Keep life insurance policies, those that have cash value or an investment component. If you have a term life policy, keep it until the term expires, then toss it. All these documents should be kept in a safe deposit box Keep pension plan documents from your current and former employers, these can be kept in a file cabinet.
Keep a copy of any medical records of immunizations, hospitalizations and prescriptions and any laboratory test you had done. You don’t need to keep the Explanation of Benefits forms most insurance companies send out unless there is a dispute of the bill.
Keep all immigration records, they are extremely important, you may need them to register to vote.
Keep your income tax returns and all documents that backup your deductions for seven years. The IRS has the right to go back seven years, they typically don’t have the manpower to go further than three, but better to be safe than sorry.
Watch for Part II of Getting Out From Under All The Paper