Essential Life Documents
Updated: Apr 6
There are specific legal documents that every adult should complete to protect their legal and health interests during good health, illness, and death. These documents become even more important for seniors. Keeping these records in one location will afford you peace of mind if an emergency occurs. After gathering your information, make sure to tell your family or designated contact where the documents are located and update these documents as necessary.
By organizing your information, your finances will stay safe and not become a missing family treasure. Here are the key financial documents you should have available to use:
List of bank accounts
Retirement accounts (pension, 401(k), IRAs, Roth IRAs, TSP, annuities, etc.)
Safe deposit boxes
Debt Accounts (credit cards, loans, mortgages, etc.)
Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
A medical crisis can happen from something as simple as a fall or car accident. Planning for this crisis makes all the difference in your medical care and comfort. Your personal medical documents should include:
Health Care Directive (DNR, POLST, etc)
Personal medical history
Medications list (Prescription & over the counter)
Insurance policies (health insurance, long-term care, etc.)
Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare
End-of-Life & Estate Planning Documents
Although this may be difficult, preparing end-of-life documents offers peace of mind confirming your wishes are honored. Having these documents available and in one location allows you and your family to manage the orderly transfer of property and assets.
End of life instruction letter
Other Essential Documents
These documents should be stored in a safe but accessible location. Access to your legal documents (as listed below) helps guarantee your insurance or benefits aren’t interrupted at a critical time.
Marriage & divorce papers
Military records (DD214- discharge paperwork)
Contact list (family, relatives, close friends, attorney, financial planner, tax advisor, etc.)
Social Security Card
Online account information (banking, social media, etc.)
Gathering all these documents can be overwhelming; tackle this task one at a time. Print this list and try to cross out one document at a time.