How long should my mom hang on to legal papers after selling her house?

UPDATED: Aug 2, 2011

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How long should my mom hang on to legal papers after selling her house?

She sold the house 9 years ago.

Asked on August 2, 2011 West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

For tax purposes (e.g. the IRS), it's recommended to hang onto them for at least 7 years. However, the statute of limitations, or time to bring a legal action, on  a contact in West Virginia is 10 years; this means that since a legal action could theoretically arise under the home sale contract (e.g. if the other party decides she breached the contract in some way or committed fraud under it) for a decade after the home sale, it's advisable to hold on to the papers for at least 10 years.

Those are minimums: if the papers are not taking up irreplaceable room, there's no reason not to hold onto them indefinitely; or if she doesn't want to do that, I'd recommend giving it at least another 2 years past the statutory period, or 12 years, since sometimes, there are grounds to extend the statutory period. That said, the best course for paperwork relating to major transactions like this is to keep holding onto it.

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