Never, never, never throw these important documents away…

Certain original paperwork needs to be kept in a safe place, ideally scanned to computer and backed up as well.

Paperwork is a pain in the rear end, and most people do a ‘clear-out’ every so on – but the following documents must never be thrown away:

  1. Copies of past tax returns
    You’re required by law to keep your tax records for five years.  But often the only record of any contributions to retirement funds, charitable donations, and expenditure on rental properties, is contained in your tax return.
  2. Marriage certificates, antenuptial contracts, and divorce papers
    You will need these when opening a bank account, applying for credit, or purchasing fixed property.  If you are divorced, you will only be able to remarry if you can prove your unmarried status.  And estate duty is materially impacted by your marriage regime.
  3. Life assurance policies
    You took out life insurance to provide for your loved ones, should something happen to you.  Make sure that they are in a place that your beneficiaries can find them.
  4. Short-term insurance policies
    The time to know where these are, and what they contain, is before you have the break-in, not after.
  5. Your most recent utility bill
    With the marvellous service offered by banks nowadays, you can virtually guarantee that your FICA documentation will be lost at least once.  And try getting your bank account unfrozen without the required paperwork…
  6. Title deeds and vehicle registration papers
    You normally forget about these until you want to sell your car or house.  Getting replacements is costly and time-consuming.
  7. Proof of payment
    Most durable goods have guarantees that are honoured if you can produce the proof of purchase.  It’s also a good idea to keep proof of things like traffic fines paid – especially if you want to avoid a night in the lock-up.  The watchword should be: “If I cannot prove payment, will it cost me money and/or inconvenience me?”  If the answer is “yes”, then keep that slip.