Organize key documents and records

Plan for the Future

Your Executor should be able to easily access key government documents related to your life, property, and financial records.

Those who manage life after loss will need a number of personal documents in order to finalize the administrative tasks required to settle a deceased's Estate.

To help this process, save each document in a safe place in the home, office, or secure online cloud service.

Additionally, catalog all of this information in a single document that outlines where everything lives so it is easily found by someone else.

These documents include, but are not limited to:

Financial Records

  • Bank account (checking, savings, CD, safe deposit box)
  • Credit cards
  • Stock and bond certificates
  • Investment / brokerage accounts
  • Retirement accounts (IRA, 401k)
  • Loans owed by or to the deceased
  • Tax records (income, property, gift, etc)
  • Key work documents (lease, contracts, insurance, etc)

Insurance Policies

  • Life & Health insurance information
  • Additional insurance policies (auto, home, veterans, funeral)

Property and Business

  • Real estate (mortgage, deeds, leases, leans)
  • Vehicle titles and registrations
  • Business documents (corporate partnership documents, account statements, contracts, licenses, tax returns)

Estate Plans

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Power of attorney (healthcare, durable, financial)
  • Trusts
  • Disposition Authorization documents
  • Pre-paid funeral arrangements

Personal Considerations


Do you own property?


Create a plan for how that property will pass on to beneficiaries. There are a few different ways to do this, including:

  • Placing the property in a living trust for a beneficiary
  • Writing who should receive the property in the will
  • Using a “transfer on death” deed to give that property to someone else when you pass away

Bear in mind that leaving behind property to multiple beneficiaries can prove problematic if those beneficiaries are unable to agree on the future of the property.

Prepare important documents such as deeds, titles, and leases. If these are located in a secure location such as a locked safe, leave behind instructions for your chosen family member or Executor to get into that location.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about this process, see the “Create an estate plan and will” chapter of the Guide.


Make sure you have a copy of your lease where a loved one can find it for any rental properties you leased or lived in at the time of your death.

Your Executor might need to notify the property manager or owner about your passing in order to terminate your lease and remove your belongings.

For more information about communicating with a landlord or property manager, please review the “Secure the deceased's home” task.


If you own property:

Create a plan for how that property will pass on to beneficiaries. There are a few different ways to do this, including:

  • Placing the property in a living trust for a beneficiary
  • Writing who should receive the property in the will
  • Using a “transfer on death” deed to give that property to someone else when you pass away

Bear in mind that leaving behind property to multiple beneficiaries can prove problematic if those beneficiaries are unable to agree on the future of the property.

Prepare important documents such as deeds, titles, and leases. If these are located in a secure location such as a locked safe, leave behind instructions for your chosen family member or Executor to get into that location.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about this process, see the “Create an estate plan and will” chapter of the Guide.

If you do not own propert:

Make sure you have a copy of your lease where a loved one can find it for any rental properties you leased or lived in at the time of your death.

Your Executor might need to notify the property manager or owner about your passing in order to terminate your lease and remove your belongings.

For more information about communicating with a landlord or property manager, please review the “Secure the deceased's home” task.


Are you or have you ever been married?


Store marriage and divorce certificates where a loved one or Executor can find them easily. These may be needed to assist a surviving spouse with accessing certain benefits.


Leave access to any partnership agreements for any persons you cohabitate with, if applicable.


If you are or have ever been married,:

Store marriage and divorce certificates where a loved one or Executor can find them easily. These may be needed to assist a surviving spouse with accessing certain benefits.

If you are not and have not ever been marrie:

Leave access to any partnership agreements for any persons you cohabitate with, if applicable.


Do you have naturalized or acquired citizenship?


Keep records to ensure your heirs will not have trouble establishing their own citizenship. You might prefer to store these with a lawyer for safekeeping.

U.S.C.I.S. Citizenship Evidence


Read on to review other materials you might need to leave behind for your loved ones.


If you have naturalized or acquired citizenshi:

Keep records to ensure your heirs will not have trouble establishing their own citizenship. You might prefer to store these with a lawyer for safekeeping.

U.S.C.I.S. Citizenship Evidence

If you do not have naturalized or acquired citizenshi:

Read on to review other materials you might need to leave behind for your loved ones.


Have you adopted a child?


Your will should name a guardian for that minor child. If you have important paperwork, such as adoption papers, or name change certificates, make sure to leave these for your executor.


Read on to review other materials you might need to leave behind for your loved ones.


If you have adopted a chil:

Your will should name a guardian for that minor child. If you have important paperwork, such as adoption papers, or name change certificates, make sure to leave these for your executor.

If you do not have an adopted child:

Read on to review other materials you might need to leave behind for your loved ones.


Plan for the Future