Document retention after death

Related to, but different than, the other thread I started yesterday. I have a lot of documents relating to my mom’s finances and such. Obviously, I need to retain the last few years of tax returns and receipts. But…

Do I need to retain her divorce papers from 1969?
Do I need to retain her medical files (apart from receipts)? (I assume ‘no’')
Do I need to retain her purchase of the house (1993) and subsequent sale (2018, I think)?
Once I cancel her cards, I will keep the cancel confirmation letters. For how long should I keep them? (She only has two cards now.)

Once the trust is transferred, I’m pretty sure I can get rid of all the old paperwork (because I’ll have new paperwork).

I’ll keep her email account open for a while in case something relevant arrives there.



Agreed. Give it a couple of months to settle up any outstanding issues - particularly any life insurance.

This is about the time I’d suggest she purge those from her records. So they can go.

Maybe a couple of years, along with the final statements showing no balance due. The goal is to retain proof of the paid and closed nature of the accounts until any time for outside parties to contest transactions has expired.

I’ll let you discuss that one with a lawyer. My guess is you might need to keep the trust documents and amendments until any statute of limitations expires for outside parties to contest things.

Good idea. If she used a mailing address (for good old fashioned paper mail), I’d suggest a change of address with the post office.



I shredded most of Dad’s papers but kept those of family history interest. He had, sadly, disposed of tons of old family photos my Mom had saved, including all the negatives, their was a big box of glass plate negatives from the really early times I’have loved to scan, clean up with today’s computer skills. What I did find, I had duplicated and distributed to my siblings, or their children… But a lot was lost, maybe nobody left too name who was who and where it was, but so much early history, some dating into early days in NY, MT, MN before moving West… He’d once hand dug a water well, no water found, I’m betting a lot went down there as he filled it in… I made a few dump runs for him, too, odds are he’d stashed some in those loads, too… Anyway, it’s nearly all gone, I have one old metal file box with what remains, someone may find it interesting one day… Here’s a few of what I did recover…

Montana days…


So here’s an unexpected bit of paperwork. A stock certificate. It’s made out to mom and dad, from 1971 (but they divorced in '69, so I don’t get that). Only two shares of ISC Industries. Apparently they still exist. Going to have to drop by the broker’s office and present it to him, with the question “what can I do with this?”. Since 1971 I have no idea if ISC split. For some reason I’m having difficulty with the symbol (I’m getting price quotes in KRWs…not dollars, and no symbol that I can recognize). Maybe my googlefu is on the fritz.

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I think that is exactly the right approach.

It may or may not actually represent anything. It’s entirely possible it was dealt with as a lost certificate some time in the past and reissued or converted to electronic form. And it might be valid. Or the ISC Industries of 1971 might not be the same ISC Industries you find today. Companies go out of business and names can get reused. No way to know without enlisting some help.


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