Monday, May 3, 2010

A Comprehensive Document List

One of the best things you can do for yourself is have all of your documents safely stored and ready to grab at a moment's notice. As has been made abundantly clear during the current flooding in Tennessee and beyond, people often don't have a lot of time to go around collecting documents AND they may not have a home to return to after the event. In disasters like these, you will need nearly all of your important documents in order to replace other documents, file insurance claims, etc. Here's the documents that you need (note that they should be originals or certified copies if at all possible):
  • Birth certificates for you, the spouse, and your minor children
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce decrees
  • Adoption records
  • Baptismal (other religious) records
  • Prenuptial agreements
  • Death certificates for immediate family members
  • DD214 (military records)
  • List of any arrests
  • Final disposition of any civil/criminal court cases
  • Copies of bankruptcy filings
  • High school diplomas
  • College degrees
  • Copies of insurance policies (life, health, auto, home, long term disability, etc)
  • Copies of tax filings for the past five years
  • Current health insurance documents (health insurance card, Medicare card, supplemental medical insurance card, etc)
  • Will
  • Medical Power of Attorney
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Living Will
  • Home inventory information
  • Copies of recent bank statements/bank account information
  • Copies of mortgages or Deeds of Trust
  • Stocks/bonds/brokerage account information
  • Retirement account information (401k, 403b, social security statement, IRA, pension plans, etc)
  • Debt statements (credit card information, auto loan, utilities, other debt information)
  • Property tax records
  • Passport
  • Social Security card
  • Copy of driver's license or state ID card
  • Citizenship papers (naturalization certificate, copy of permanent resident card, etc)
  • Car titles
  • Business incorporation papers and any other pertinent business info (creditors, contracts, etc)
  • Contracts/partnership paperwork
  • List of next of kin and their info (name, address, phone, email)
  • List of professional advisers (lawyer, accountant, executor, etc)
  • Medical information (doctor's info, dentist's info, allergies, major medical treatments, list of current medications, etc)
  • List of online info (online accounts, passwords, web/blog host info, etc)
  • Location of safety deposit boxes
  • Information on any death planning (funeral arrangements, cemetery plots, etc)
  • Appraisals for valuable items
  • Car registration (should be kept in the car)
  • Warranties
  • Trust documents
  • Employment documentation

Gathering all of this information can be quite the slog but having all of this information when disaster strikes will make recreating your life (and getting paid from the insurance companies) much easier.


  1. That is a great listing and will help me to gather everything up. Thank you. But, I might add pet documentations such as rabies vacination and all of the up to date shots and license. They could lose their collars. Keep blogging my friend, you are a good read.

  2. Excellent point Sharon. While most of these documents will apply to the person reading this article, if you are responsible for anyone else (aging parents, foster kids, etc) you will need to have a similar document collection for them in the event that they (or you) need to follow up on issues on their behalf.
    Some other items to consider: pet registration/vaccination info as Sharon pointed out, boat and other vehicle registration, POLST/DNR forms for critically ill/chronically ill family members, farm stuff (cattle/horse/other animal registration/papers; titles to farm machinery, etc).