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After a Death: How Long Should You Hold Onto Mortgage Statements?

After the death of a loved one, there are many questions to be answered, such as "how long should I hold onto their mortgage statements?" Get the answer here.

Patrick Hicks

Patrick Hicks, @PatrickHicks

Head of Legal, Trust & Will

When it comes to important documents, it can make you feel understandably nervous to get rid of anything. The good news is, you typically don’t have to hold on to them forever. If a loved one has passed away, you’ll want to store and secure their critical documents for an appropriate length of time. This guide will provide guidelines on how long to keep mortgage statements after a death, including after the home in question has been sold. 

How Long to Keep Mortgage Statements After the Death of a Loved One?

Mortgage statements are documents that inform a homeowner of how much left they have to pay off the mortgage. Some mortgage companies mail hard copies, while many others have gone paperless. 

If you are locating the mortgage statements of a deceased person, then you’ll need to determine whether they received them through mail or electronically. If it’s the latter, then you’ll need access to their email, or the username and password used to access their mortgage company account.

These statements are helpful in finding out the mortgage company, mortgage balance, the interest rate, and customer service numbers.

While there is no government-issued requirement on how long you have to keep mortgage statements after the death of a loved one, a good rule of thumb is three years. You’ll get a new one every month, so simply shred or delete the old one and replace it with the most recent one. 

Mortgage Documents to Keep After the Death of a Loved One

In addition to mortgage statements, there are other documents related to the ownership or sale of a property that should be kept:

  • Deed: A deed is an official record verifying that you own your home. Both government agencies and financial experts recommend retaining this document for the entire duration of your homeownership. Make sure to keep your deed safe by storing it in a fireproof safe or a secure safety deposit box.

  • Promissory note: The loan agreement between you and your mortgage company is laid out in the promissory note. It will state the loan terms and the monthly mortgage amount. You’ll receive this document at the time of closing, which you should also keep for the entire duration of your homeownership. Also keep this document safe by storing it in a fireproof safe or a safety deposit box.

  • Property tax statements: Depending on your state, you should receive your property tax statement either annually, twice per year, or quarterly. This document provides information on the value of your home, your tax rate, and the amount of your tax bill. While these bills are public information, it is recommended to keep the most recent copy on file for three years.

  • Home inspection documents: It’s important to keep your home inspection documents in case you uncover a significant issue with your home that wasn’t caught by the home inspector. There are instances in which you may be able to seek legal recourse. It’s also helpful to reference these documents to find out the age of your appliances and when they should be replaced. While there’s no legal reason to hold on to these documents for more than three years, you may feel like holding onto them if you find them helpful.

  • Home warranty: If there was a home warranty provided in the purchase of your home, be sure to keep on to this document until the warranty expires.

  • Contract and disclosure forms: As a part of the home purchase process, you should receive a set of contract and disclosure forms. In these forms, the owner will disclose issues with the home. Keep these forms for at least three years from the data of the home purchase in case you uncover a problem that you suspect the previous owner tried to hide, and you need to sue them or pursue a settlement.

  • Important receipts: Keep any receipts rendered from any major improvements, purchases, renovations or repairs related to your home. This is also true for any receipts you may have inherited from the previous homeowner. It’s helpful to know which company or contractor was responsible for making repairs, or the name of the supplier of materials or appliances, as well as the date repairs or replacements have been made.

What to Do with Mortgage Statements of the Deceased

Earlier, we discussed that any important financial documents of a deceased person should be kept for at least three to seven years. During this time, you should be intentional about storing these documents securely. We recommend storing the original paper copies in either a fireproof safe, a fireproof locking file cabinet, or a safety deposit box. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even store the documents within a fireproof and waterproof envelope within one of the mentioned options.

It’s also important to consider storing backups. For instance, you can create digital backups by scanning the original documents and store them in a secure cloud storage solution or password-protected external hard drive. Learn more about digital vaults for document protection here.

Commonly Asked Questions About How Long to Keep Mortgage Statements

The following sections answer some of the most commonly asked questions about how long you should keep mortgage statements. 

Do I need to keep old mortgage documents after selling of home?

It’s best to keep the most recent mortgage documents for at least three to seven years, even after the home is sold. If you received a certificate of satisfaction for paying off a mortgage, then this document should be kept as well. These documents may become necessary in the case of an IRS audit or estate settlement.

Is there any reason to keep old mortgage papers?

There are a number of important reasons to keep old mortgage papers. Here are some examples:

  • Questions pertaining to property title, tax, legal issues

  • Paperwork requests for insurance claims

  • Dispute during the sale of your home

  • Proof on hand of having paid off your mortgage

  • Determining capital gains tax

  • Audits

  • Preparation for remodels or renovations

  • Foreclosures

This list of examples helps to demonstrate that there are any number of scenarios that can arise where retaining mortgage documentation can prove helpful.

Eliminate Document Hassle with Trust & Will

After a loved one passes away, it can feel a little overwhelming to sort through all of their old documents. We hope that you can find these resources helpful so that you know what you can toss and what you should keep, and for how long.

To play it safe, you should plan to keep important documents for three to seven years. However, know that you don’t typically have to keep every single document. For example, your loved one should have received mortgage statements on a monthly basis. If you find more than one, you only need to keep the most recent one.

Last but not least, be sure to secure the documents you do end up keeping securely. We recommend storing hard copy documents in a fire, water, and tamper proof container, such as a safe, file cabinet, or safety deposit box.  Also be sure to create digital copies as backup, also in a secure location such as a digital vault.

As you sort through your loved one’s documents and belongings, you may start thinking about how you can make this process easier for your own heirs one day. One idea is to put your digital estate plan in place, which you can store alongside digital copies of important documents. Trust & Will makes it easy to create your Will and Trust online, and members also have access to an encrypted digital vault for easy storage of all of your important documents. That way, your loved ones won’t have to play a guessing game. Learn more about which solutions fit your needs today!

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