Planning documents sorted in a filing container.

Put your Covid-19 time at home to good use (and make your relatives happy) by pulling together these 5 groups of documents:

Identity Documents

Birth certificate, social security card, passport, marriage license, driver’s license, other types of licenses, divorce decree, Final Judgment for Name Change, Adoption Decree, Veteran file (DD214, DD215, Report of Separation, Awards and declarations, security clearance), professional ID cards, proof of graduation or GED.

Insurance Documents

Insurance documents include: life Insurance, property, long-term care, auto, health, dental, disability, homeowners, pet, flood.


Deeds, titles, Certificates of Authenticity, valuations, appraisals, credit cards (front and back), credit report, one statement for each bank and financial account (with account card), list of logins and passwords (it is strongly recommended that you have an on-line password manager, so you only need to write down one login and password), judgments, annuities, retirement (qualified and non-qualified) accounts, list of guns, entity records if you own an interest in any type of entity, stock certificates, list of income sources and amounts, list of debts and amounts, pictures of contents of every room in your house, proof of purchase for expensive items, list of jewelry and antiques.   

Health Information

Medical Power of Attorney, HIPAA release, Directive to Physicians, list of medical conditions, list of medications, list of doctors and health providers, another copy of long-term care policy, ), list of friends and relatives to be notified in case of your serious illness.

Estate Planning

Will with any codicils, trust (with list of assets funded into it) with any amendments, Durable Power of Attorney, Designation of Guardian, Designation of Burial Agent, Obituary (write your own and include a picture), list of information for a death certificate (parents’ names, mother’s maiden name, place and date of birth, your legal name), list with names and contact information for professionals (lawyer, CPA, financial advisor, insurance agent or death, list of marital history, list of names and contact information for friends and family to be notified in case of death.

If you are missing any documents, then get them.  

What should you do with all of this once you have compiled it? Organize into 5 folders per above. Copy and scan the contents of each folder. Put the folders in a safe location in your residence and tell your agent/children. Put the copies in another location entirely off-premises. Save the scans to a secure electronic folder in the cloud.

A brief note about estate planning – not to panic anyone, but if you don’t have those important 7 documents in place (will, Medical Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney, Directive to Physicians, HIPAA Release, Designation of Guardian, Designation of Burial Agent) and updated, then you need to see an attorney and get them done immediately.  This is, seriously, no time to procrastinate or kid around. If you are a parent of a minor or special needs child, then your estate planning is even more urgent. If you have an elderly parent, then please urge them to get this done.  

Be safe out there.

“The attorneys at Hammerle Finley are currently available for appointments during normal office hours for an in person visit, phone call, video call, or off site visit. Please reach out to schedule your appointment. This column is not intended as legal advice “