House and Home

NEVER Throw Away These Documents


While the winter months are a great time to purge your home of paper clutter, there are few documents you should absolutely keep in a safe place. We asked Amy Panos, a senior editor at “Better Homes and Gardens,” what you should have on hand in the event of an emergency.

Vital Records

  • Birth/death certificate
  • Marriage license
  • Social security card
  • Military discharge papers
  • Divorce decree
  • Passport(s)
  • Property deeds
  • Titles to vehicle(s), boat(s), etc.
  • Documents relating to loans
  • Bonds and other items that equate to cash
  • Insurance policies

Panos says to keep the above items in a home fire safe, which is a small safe that can withstand fires.

Tax Records

  • Keep everything related to the current year, including receipts, pay stubs and W2 forms.
  • Keep returns and their supporting documents from past years in another file. The IRS advises keeping tax documents from the past seven years; in the event you are audited, the IRS can look up to seven years into your financial history.

Statements From Investments

  • Hold onto quarterly statements you receive until you get the next one. At the end of the year, file away your year-end statement; that is all you’ll need. Once you have your year-end statement, SHRED your quarterlies.