Documents that you'll never want to toss

If you’re like most Americans, you have amassed quite the collection of financial documents, including receipts, invoices, pay stubs, bank statements, utility bills and old tax returns. Most can be tossed after a certain period of time. But there are some things that you’ll want to consider keeping forever. Here are some of them:

Federal and state tax returns. While some experts say that you’re probably safe pitching your personal federal and state tax returns after seven years, others say it’s a better idea to hold onto them forever. After seven years, some financial planners recommend tossing the mound of supporting paperwork used to prepare and file a return while still holding on to the actual return. You can either keep paper copies of your tax returns or scan them and store them electronically.

Personal records. Birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage licenses and divorce decrees all should be kept in a secure, fire-proof box as long as you live.

Estate planning paperwork. The same applies to wills, trusts, life insurance policies, healthcare directives and other estate planning information.

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