To his dying day, my dad was worried about what he called “important papers”. My parents kept a lot of paper that they did not need to keep and they worried about the safety and the documents.
Papers like birth certificates, social security cards, and marriage licenses should be kept but each can be replaced if needed. I like to know where my passport is and I keep it locked up with my social security card.
There isn’t any reason to keep old bills and “canceled checks” or tax records that are more than 7 years old.
Homeowners do not need any kind of paper to prove ownership. It is all filed with the county and when it is time to sell a title company will verify the records. Deeds and mortgages are registered with the county.
Abstracts of title should be kept but are not needed to prove ownership.
There are some records that do come in handy when selling a home. Maintenance records and repair records and even old invoices and receipts for home repairs, improvements or maintenance.
It is wonderful when we know how old the siding is or when the roof was put on. I actually keep a written journal too. I know how old the furnace and water heater are and can prove it.
Some “papers” take up a lot of space and have information on them that an identity thief would love. They can also be a fire hazard.
Using both of my paper shredders is took months to shred the documents my parents kept for decades.
I have a metal lockbox with the documents I kept. There are some birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, diplomas, baptismal certificates, and antique property deeds and a couple of antique mortgage records for real estate that no longer exists.
In all, I have 4 generations worth of “important papers”, in a box that holds about as much as two shoe boxes.
Maybe this is the year to get rid of some of the excess papers in your home so that your children don’t have to deal with them all one day. January is the perfect time to go through papers and do some purging.