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Documents You Need Before You Die: Relationships

April 6, 2015

In this relationship installment of our Essential Documents series, we focus on the relationship documents you need to ensure you have compiled.  Keep them safely stored but accessible- so that the complicated process of losing a loved one can be made easier to navigate for your loved ones.

To view an infographic summary of all the 30 Documents You Need Before You Die, click here.

At different stages of your life, you’ll have different contents in your life documents, but if you have control over any types of accounts or property—tangible, fiscal or digital—you already have at least some of these documents which represent who you are, the life you’ve lived, and the assets and liabilities that you own.

We encourage you, whether you need to pull together just a few documents, or a long lifetime of documents, that you compile, track, and take thorough notes. The process is simplified if you track as you go rather than doing a large amount at one time.  Once you’ve compiled these necessary documents, try to maintain your hard work.

It can be helpful for many to discuss these items with whomever would be responsible for administering your estate in depth so that they know what you have, where it’s kept and what your wishes are.[i]

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As a first step, we highly recommend printing out your own copy of the Peace of Mind Checklist we’ve provided and filling it out thoroughly. This tool is for you to use to simplify the process for all of these very important life documents.



Marriage License
Your spouse must provide marriage documentation in the event of your passing in order to have any claim over your assets. That is why you must store it in a safe place and communicate to your spouse about where these important documents are.  We highly recommend having a backup digital copy in case of a weather emergency.

Divorce Papers
Proof of divorce is just as important as proof of marriage. This will include the judgment or decree received from court which will include information on child support, alimony and property settlements, and also may list the division of investment and retirement accounts.

Guardianship/Adoption Papers
Having these very important papers accessible to the proper person in the event of your death can save enormous family discord after your passing by others who may contest your wishes. Keep these documents safe. It helps to have a digital copy, as well.

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Documents You Need Before You Die:

The Basics

Assets & Ownership

Banking & Investments

Retirement Planning & Insurance

Health Records

If you’d like to view the full list of documents you need before you die, click here to read our infographic.

This series is based off “The 25 Documents You Need Before You Die,” by the Wall Street Journal, originally published July 2, 2011.