To file or not to file? What types of paperwork you should file and how long to keep them for.
I'm often asked by clients how long they need to keep specific types of paperwork for. There's not always a simple answer as it can depend on individual circumstances. This said, the guidelines below *should* be appropriate for most people. NB if you are in receipt of benefits or tax credits then jump to the final paragraph.
Keep these safely, preferably in a lockable and fireproof box. These documents may include birth/marriage/adoption/parental responsibility/death/divorce certificates, education/exam qualification certificates, immigration documentation, passports, visas, Wills, Lasting Power of Attorney, & driving licences
Tax documents (& everything you may have detailed in your tax return for income & expenses in case your tax return gets investigated)
Keep for 3 years if employed
Keep for 6 years if self-employed
Keep all payslips for the year until you get sent your annual P60 then keep the P60 and throw away the payslips. Keep P60s & P45s indefinitely (P45s are useful to recall your employment history & dates for CVs etc)
Banking & Credit Card Statements
Try to opt for digital statements and then you will be emailed them and not need to keep paper copies at home. Keep emails stored in folder so you can find them if necessary. Monthly issued paper statements should be kept for 3 months which allows you to check off purchases and returns. Do keep all annual summary statements.
Keep while valid. Once the new policy documents arrive you can throw away the old ones. If you make a claim keep all the claim paperwork so you can recall dates for no claims discount etc.
Again opt for email billing where possible and file in a folder within your email package. Keep paper bills for 12 months to allow you to track usage and help you get best deal on online price comparison sites.
Keep your loan agreement and annual statements until the loan is paid off. Once paid off the advice is still to keep one piece of correspondence with your account number and loan company details on it, in case of mis-selling or other disputes.
Pensions & investments
Keep pension/investment documents safely - to cut down on the volume of paper throw away the brochures and just keep the statements.
Keep deeds and current mortgage agreement safe. Opt for electronic mortgage statements where possible. Keep monthly statements until you get the annual summary statement at which stage you can throw away the individual months. Keep the annual statements indefinitely to track your mortgage repayment over time.
Keep the copy of your current rental agreement and any details of previous addresses for last 3 years. Keep details of management agent correspondence for repairs and ground rent in case of dispute. Keep receipts of rent & bills paid for current tenancy for minimum of 3 years. If you receive an annual statement you can just keep that and get rid of monthly statements.
Keep indefinitely for any serious illnesses requiring treatment as it can be hard to obtain details from your GP and you may need details for insurance purposes etc. If you have thrown away important information don’t panic - you can request copies of your records but may have to pay a fee.
Keep your V5C ownership certificate and service record indefinitely for each car you own. Tax and MOT documents should be kept while they are still valid.
Home repairs/certification/planning consent/buildings control docs
Keep all certificates safely as they will be required by the Buyer if/when you sell your home or buildings insurance companies if you make a claim.
Warranties and receipts
Keep warranties until they expire or you no longer have the product (whichever is sooner). Keep important receipts for 6 years in case you need to exercise your rights under the Consumer Act. Receipts and instruction manuals are also very useful if you wish to sell your item.
These guidelines are drawn from reputable sources such as The Citizens Advice Bureau, Money Saving Expert & SAGA (June 2019), however you should verify this advice before you start shredding away!
If you are claiming benefits or tax credits, it is recommended that you keep ALL your paperwork for FIVE years since you may need to show your financial situation in great detail. File your paperwork carefully by subject and date to enable you to find what you need to help your case should your benefits be re-assessed.