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Document Retention Schedule

  • Written by Blanka Smetana

OE Organizing PackagesPaper clutter always finds its way to our homes. You can stop some of it from intruding your home right away by sending unwanted flyers straight to the recycle bin. Then there are legal and financial documents we HAVE to keep. Some of them forever, some of them for several years or maybe just for a couple of days.

Currently, there is no cohesive legal body in Canada which would set guidelines for the document retention.

The table below summarizes information from the following sources: www.bennettjones.com, House Works (by Cynthia Townley Ewer), www.cra-arc.gc.ca, and How to Organize Your Financial Clutter (by Kira Vermond/Kristie Demke for Chatelaine.com, Jan 21/2011).

Document
Retention period
Adoption papers Forever
ATM and bank deposit/withdrawal slips Until monthly statement is received and accuracy confirmed.
Business records Generally 6 years from the end of the taxation year to which they relate. Always seek advice from your legal or taxation specialist.
Bank statements - business Generally 6 years from the end of the taxation year to which they relate. Always seek advice from your legal or taxation specialist.
Bank statements - personal Until accuracy confirmed with receipts and all related bills paid.
Birth certificates Forever
Contracts Until updated
Credit card account numbers Until updated
Death certificate Forever
Divorce Papers Forever
Home improvement records As long as you own the property or are rolling over profits from it into new property.
Home purchase records As long as you own the property or are rolling over profits from it into new property.
Household inventory Until updated
Insurance policies Until updated
Investment certificates, stocks, bonds Until cashed or sold
Investment records Generally 6 years from the end of the taxation year to which they relate. Always seek advice from your legal or taxation specialist.
Loan agreements Until updated
Marriage license Forever
Military service records Forever
Pay Slips Until T4 comes. Then Compare pay slips against the T4. If numbers match, pay slips can be discarded.
Real estate deeds As long as you own the property
Receipts for large purchases Until the item is sold or discarded
Service contracts and warranties Until the item is sold or discarded
Social Insurance number card Forever
Tax returns (with all supporting receipts) Generally 6 years from the end of the taxation year to which they relate. Always seek advice from your legal or taxation specialist.
Utility bills 1 year to compare them to the previous year, then discard. 2 to 3 years if you are thinking about selling your home as prospective owners like to see the old bills.
Vehicle titles Until the vehicle is sold or disposed of
Will Until updated

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