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Important Documents & Your Safe

One of the best uses for safes is the safekeeping of important family and life documents such as marriage certificates, birth and death certificates, home deeds, stock or bond certificates, and other important financial documents. Even with the increased digitization of…well, everything it is still important to keep hard copies within easy reach. The major advantage of a home safe over, say, a safety deposit box at a bank or something similar is that these documents are within easy reach twenty-four hours per day. You never know when you’ll have urgent need of a marriage certificate or a bond certificate.

What happens when it’s a bank holiday? Or on a Sunday? Or if you can’t quite remember where you put that safety deposit key? Having a home safe alleviates all of these concerns and streamlines your “important document search.” As I was thinking about this, I realized there sure are a lot of documents that I’d want to keep in a safe at home but I never know exactly how long you are meant to keep things for. Like tax returns? Did you know that you need to keep all tax returns filed for seven years before disposing of them?

Well, I’ve come across this handy cheat sheet to help you keep track of what you need to keep track of documents.

How Long to Keep Important Documents

Birth and death certificates---Forever.

Estate-planning documents---Forever. (Unless your executor knows how to get into your safe, also make sure he or she and your lawyer have copies.)

Life-insurance policies-------Until the term of coverage ends.

Savings bonds -------------Until you cash them in at maturity (30 years in the case of Series EE bonds).

Stock certificates --------Until you sell the stock or have it converted to direct or street-name registration.

Tax returns ------------At least seven years.


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