Personal record retention is not generally determined by any law (unlike IRS records). But these records could be needed throughout life for different purposes. Let me share this with you.
I was having lunch with a friend one day and we started talking about record retention (really, we did!). She told me that 6 months ago her driver’s license had come up for renewal. In the State of Florida we can renew our licenses online. She went to the DOT website and it would not let her renew but told her she had to go to a DOT office.
When she went to the office to renew, she was asked for her birth certificate and her marriage license. My friend has been married for 32 years, has grown children, and has lived in Florida since she was 10 and has had a Florida driver’s license since she was 16. The only time she used her birth certificate was when she first got her license and the only time she used her marriage license was when she changed her name.
Really? Why now?
Well, thanks to the Patriot Act (no political comment here) DOT’s are required to spot check certain people for the legitimacy of their name. Unfortunately she was the one! Now, my friend was born in a very small town in South Dakota. She was also married in that town as she spent time there in the summers with her grandparents and loved it there. However, this town had been absorbed into another municipality for cost cutting. Getting her documents was not easy!
Actually she had to ask the DOT (which is difficult enough to work with) to give her an extension on her expiration date. Even though they did give her an extension so she wouldn't get traffic ticket for an expired license, they charged her for being late on the renewal. By the time she tracked everything down, six months had passed. Not only was it expensive for her renewal with the fees and penalties, but the time and stress of locating those records was unwelcome!
So, the lesson here is even if you have not used your marriage license, birth certificate, or whatever for a very long time, you may still need them someday.
Go here to download your free Personal Record Retention list.