Special offer
Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA)

Spam prevention
Althea Kippes, Esq.
A.T. Kippes, Real Estate Broker - San Francisco, CA
Serving San Francisco to Silicon Valley!

To be safe, check with the licensing entity for attorneys for the state where she was licensed to see how long she must keep legal files, and what is the proper way to dispose of these files if they can be disposed of.

Assuming that she does not legally need to keep these documents from the 1970s, she can take them to a place where documents can be shredded, or contact a shred service to come out and shred the documents on site (or they take all the documents and shred them at their location, but everything is secure.)

From the picture, it looks like you have a huge amount of work to do, so a shred service with a truck coming on site might be the best solution.  Go on www.yelp.com and see what comes up.

I would not put all of these files in storage.  It will be costly and it just defers dealing with this problem to a later time.

Nov 06, 2016 08:04 AM
Toronto, ON

You should not be advising a retired attorney what to do with legal files relating to the attorney's real estate practice.

Nov 06, 2016 07:55 AM
Diana Zaccaro Broker Associate
ZOOM Realty Group - Cocoa Beach, FL
"The Accidental Blogger" Cocoa Beach, Florida

Onsite shredding at her location but first check requirements for how long files must be kept in her state.

BUT first check with the shredding company for a list of things they can't shred, just in case.

To keep the cost down, remove the documents from the file folders and just shred the documents. File folders don't need to be shredded but will run up the cost fast.


Nov 06, 2016 08:37 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

If she's unlikely to practice law again, I don't see the value in going through files if none of them are "open." I'd shred. But before shredding, I would check with an active attorney how this is normally handled. There must be some laws for them as to how to long to keep files.

Nov 06, 2016 07:12 AM
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

We had a commericial shredder come to our house to pick up files that we had transferred to Dropbox.

Dec 06, 2016 05:02 AM
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Eighteen Years Experience in Brevard County

My files are marked for required retention period and in January of every year all qualifying files from previous year are shredded.

Nov 09, 2016 02:39 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

In Denver, we have a Shred-A-Thon once or twice a year, and able to bring several boxes to get shredded.

Nov 08, 2016 06:32 AM
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Jeff Pearl I have a real good crosscut shredder. I would recommend him hiring a company that will bring commercial grade shredders to his location. She should make sure she meets each State's requirement for keeping files before destroying them.

Nov 07, 2016 11:21 PM
Joe D'Agostino
NMLS# 729950 - Manahawkin, NJ
Mortgage Officer 46 years!

As for your end of the business, I can only speak for a security issue. I must retain records for 7 years after a closing. When it is time for removing them from the office, I must shred them. I would suggest that any documents that maintain Name, Address, Date of Birth, Social Security Numbers, etc should be treated with the same care. I also must be extremely careful with credit reports,for they are practically a synopsis of a persons life. Remember, being extremely careful is better that being extremely careless. 


Nov 07, 2016 08:09 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

I have to see what everyone is saying on the suggest.

Nov 07, 2016 08:00 AM
Tony Lewis
Summit Real Estate Group - Valencia, CA
Summit Real Estate Group Valencia & Aliso Viejo

I have never kepst a hard copy of any transaction after closing.  The company file is enough for me.  I shred all documents once they are uploaded.

Nov 07, 2016 07:41 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

There is no way for us to answer this question, since we do not know your local regulation for legal files.

Nov 07, 2016 04:04 AM
Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA
https://HugginsHomes.com - Thousand Oaks, CA
Residential Real Estate and Investment Properties

Anything that no longer needs to be kept for legal requirements, I'd get a shredding truck company like Shred-Rite or Iron Mountain to come out and shred them onsite (they may even help empty the cabinets too).  Will cost a pretty penny, but it's worth it.  For everything that needs to be kept, contact Iron Mountain.  They have storage options and you can set dates for the files to be auto destroyed.

Nov 07, 2016 01:49 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate Services

I called a mobile shredding company that came on-site with a huge truck that shredded 13 boxes of files ... and I watched the truck chew the files via a camera.  It was amazing and affordable. 

Nov 07, 2016 12:24 AM
Jennifer Mackay
Counts Real Estate Group, Inc. - Panama City, FL
Your Bay County Florida Realtor 850.774.6582

Burn or hire a shredding company is my vote

Nov 06, 2016 10:24 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

I tear everything in half & usually mix it with raw garbage. Best is shredding

Nov 06, 2016 10:17 PM
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Sounds like they are past needing to be retained. If so, shredding on a powerful machine is probably best.

Nov 06, 2016 10:13 PM
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

I dont know what the time frame is for lawyers. They would make a good bon fire but realistically hire a professional shredding truck

Nov 06, 2016 10:05 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

I'd check to see what the legal requirements are, and then contact a shredding service ASAP!!

Nov 06, 2016 09:59 PM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Shred file older than 5 years. Those under 5 years may need to be saved. Check your state statute!

Nov 06, 2016 09:56 PM
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty

Diana Zaccaro nailed this one!

Nov 06, 2016 09:34 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

As others have suggested -- confirm with the governing state agency to know how to best handle.  Good luck.  Big job.  

Nov 06, 2016 09:24 PM
Sandy Padula & Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Florida Realty Investments - , CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Scan and store electronically. There are firms that will do this but $$$

Nov 06, 2016 09:10 PM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

We use a shredding company.  They come to our office.

Nov 06, 2016 09:09 PM
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Good luck.

Nov 06, 2016 07:50 PM
Nancy Robinson Ranked #6 in MI
Century 21 Town and Country - Royal Oak, MI
#11 Century21 Realtor in the US, #16 in the World

If you decide shredding is the answer, check out your local recycling center. They may have an industrial shredder you can use for free.   An industrial shredder can handle a full sized document box in one bite.  

Recycle, reuse reclaim!!

Nov 06, 2016 07:27 PM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Burlington, MA
Metro Boston Homes For Sale

Jeff Pearl - excellent answer from Althea Kippes, Esq. - I was going to say something similar.

Nov 06, 2016 02:59 PM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

Call a shredding service and let them come pick them up.

Nov 06, 2016 02:21 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

Scanning and shredding is what I would do!  Now, that's a MAJOR job!

Nov 06, 2016 01:48 PM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

Commercial Shredding

Nov 06, 2016 12:09 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Check to see what the legal requirements are, and then contact a shredding service

Nov 06, 2016 11:58 AM
Noah Seidenberg
Coldwell Banker - Evanston, IL
Chicagoland and Suburbs (800) 858-7917

The shredder. We keep all of our files online on a cloud if we need them. No need for hard copies after the fact.

Nov 06, 2016 11:53 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

suggest a doc shred company....

A realtor had a room full of them. Many homes he sold several times. Two truck load......

Nov 06, 2016 11:46 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

What?  Settlement attorneys do not keep records forever?

Nov 06, 2016 11:26 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

I think that Marc Swartz, CPA, CA, Real Estate Broker has the right answer. Having said that, if it were me  and Even if everything can be shredded I would want to hold on to at least electronic versions of the HUDs - just in case someone needed one

Nov 06, 2016 11:07 AM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

I's put them in storage, never know when someone will need these.

Nov 06, 2016 10:23 AM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Check with attorney first... then shred or burn.

Nov 06, 2016 09:40 AM
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

Your State Real Estate Commission should have that answer for you. 

Nov 06, 2016 09:16 AM
Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate

What does your state say the retention period is for new documents? Anything preceding that date, just dump.

Nov 06, 2016 09:07 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


I think you have great answers.  A

Nov 06, 2016 08:47 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Shred the files and move on.

Nov 06, 2016 08:31 AM
JoAnn Moore
The Mortgage Market of Delaware - Georgetown, DE
Home Loans in Delaware

I inquired about the cost of shredding. A 65 gallon container is $65 to shred. From your photo it looks like she would need to fill it 10 times.

Nov 06, 2016 07:57 AM
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Those that can be legally disposed of, I burn because I have the abiblity to do so.  Usually in my ourdoor furnace.

Nov 06, 2016 07:48 AM
Debbie Laity
Cedaredge Land Company - Cedaredge, CO
Your Real Estate Resource for Delta County, CO

Those files from the 70s need to go. I would shed them. I take home documents from my office and burn them in my woodstove. 

Nov 06, 2016 07:43 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

I'd ask her if she needs to save anything.  If not, shred them all.

Nov 06, 2016 07:34 AM
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Happily Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

everything older than 10 years, I would shred...we had a shredding truck come to the office once a year..... the office has their own copy of my files..... I have not files remaining.....have not been active for over 10 years....

Nov 06, 2016 07:25 AM