“You should retain copies of your federal tax returns for 7 years.” Is that true, or a myth? How long should you keep those quarterly and annual statements you get about your investment accounts? And how long should you keep bank statements before throwing them away?
Your age, wealth & health might shape your answer. If you are not yet retired, then you may wish to follow the general “rules of thumb” presented across the rest of this article.
On the other hand, if you are retired and there is any chance that you might need to apply for Medicaid, then you should keep at least five years of all financial records on hand (including credit card statements).
Why? Medicaid has a five-year "lookback" period in many states. To be approved for benefits in those states, you have to prove that you didn’t give away funds during that five-year period. To prove this, you must produce complete records from every bank and brokerage account to which you have access, including those held jointly.1
Another special circumstance: if someone you love ends up under court supervision via guardianship or conservatorship, all financial records must be kept from the date of that guardian's or conservator's appointment until the court gives final approval to the fiduciary's financial account.