Mark McCown: Most records don’t have to be kept forever

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 19, 2022

Dear Lawyer Mark: I’m cleaning house and trying to get some of this mess out of the way. How long do I have to keep records to be legal?

I have utility bills, tax copies, and receipts for over 10 years ago.

Are there laws on what you have to keep? We’re running out of room with all the stuff we’re keeping. — PROCTORVILLE PACK RATS

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Dear Pack Rats: You do not need to keep any records, receipts, etc. If you want to, you can throw everything away, right now.

If, however, you are concerned that the government may want you to justify your tax returns, you should consider keeping at least your last three years of records.

Much of what you are talking about is available from the companies who send out the bills, so I do not recommend you keep everything.

I do recommend that you contact the Social Security office before throwing out your old income tax forms to make sure Social Security has given you credit for all your contributions.

Personally, I am convinced that the more closets and storage space we have the more junk we keep.

Maybe our forefathers were smart in not having a lot of storage space. If you really want to get rid of a lot of non-essentials, move to a smaller house.

Dear Lawyer Mark: I am a senior in high school, and I’m thinking about eventually becoming a lawyer.

I know that you have to go to law school and take a test afterwards to become a lawyer, but I don’t know a whole lot more about the requirements.

Could you please let me know what I should be looking at as far as a major in college, where the good law schools are, and anything else that might help me? — FUTURE LAWYER

Dear Future: It’s good that you are taking the time to think ahead about the steps that you need to take to become what you want to be.

As far as undergraduate majors, you can literally major in anything you want.

I know lawyers who have majored in business, political science, art, literature, Chinese, history, biology, every type of engineering, and pretty much any other conceivable major.

There truly is no one specific major you should be looking at to serve as a basis for law school.

The best thing to do is major in something you will enjoy, because you will spend at least four years studying it.

During your last year in college, you need to take the LSAT, which is simply the law school version of the SAT.

How well you do on the test, as well as your record through college, will determine what schools to which you will likely be admitted.

Like majors, there is no single law school that is best for everybody. Each has its own concentrations, style, benefits, and detriments, and you can only determine which is the right school for you by visiting different ones and speaking to the faculty and students there.

You may also want to call an area attorney and ask him or her for any personal suggestions or advise they may have, or their thoughts on what their particular school was like.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: The sound of a kiss is not so loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a deal longer. – Oliver Wendell Holmes

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.