Seniors have collected tons of documents through the years — documents such as tax, financial, banking and medical. That’s a lot of paper that needs storage space! The question is: what to do with these documents? Keep them or shred them? On the one hand, there’s no question that one needs to retain certain docs for reference and compliance — but must you still hold on to documents that are 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years old? How do you decide what to really keep?
Here are several suggestions offered by the Social Security Administration.
Seniors Have Collected: Tax Documents
You’re now in your golden years and have stored tax returns from over 20 years ago. Should you continue to hold on to them? The answer is no.
You only need to hold hold on to your old tax returns and supporting documents for three years — counting from the return’s due date or the date you filed (whichever comes later). But, if you were self-employed or had a complicated return — you must keep it for 6 years.
If you own or owned your own home, records must be kept for 7 years. Keep all of your home-improvement receipts, you can take that as a deduction and reduce your taxes — when you sell your home.
Seniors Have Collected: Banking
If you think you or your spouse will be applying for Medicaid for nursing home coverage, then you probably will have to produce 5 years of financial records. These must include banking, brokerage and credit card statements. Otherwise, just keeps these records for 3 years.
If you own or owned stocks or bonds, you must hold on to them for 6 years.Insofar as canceled checks, no need to save them, as banks retain electronic records of every check you’ve written.
Seniors Have Collected: Your Medical Records
You should retain all of your medical test results indefinitely. This includes surgical reports, hospital discharge summaries, and treatment protocols for major illnesses. Keep these in a safe place. In addition, keep immunization and vaccination records permanently, as doctors may need these in the future.
And finally, hold on to proof of payments to medical providers for six years with the relevant return.