Vital Document Checklist

The extensive guide to your most essential papers

Here's the skinny on your lifetime and lifespan papers—the documents that belong in your Vital File

Paper Peace /
by Catherine Anderson,

8 Individual thumbnails of vital document checklist
8 Page Vital Document Checklist for Your Home Filing

The printable checklist below will help you

  • Identify your most vital documents—the papers you or a loved one will need in some of life's most challenging situation.
  • Organize and maintain the vital documents—so you or a loved one can find and keep track of your most essential papers.
  • Determine if you're missing any essential papers—so you can replace vital documents before a situation becomes urgent.

Vital lifetime documents

  • Prove your identity, nationality, or relationship to another
  • Document education and accreditation such as certifications, diplomas, and transcripts
  • Document military service and government employment
  • Legalize final wishes, estate planning, or relationships with others
  • Confirm the service, execution, and resolution of a civil process
  • Confirm debt payoff, estate settlement, or value of a financial trade

Vital lifespan documents

  • Prove ownership
  • Prove current insurance or value of big-ticket items
  • Document an agreement made with another individual or business
  • Provide year-end financial summaries
  • Determine the fair market value of an item, vehicle, or piece of property you own
  • Prove payment related to home improvement, the purchase of real estate or a vehicle, or another large financial investment
  • Confirms the resolution of a bankruptcy filing or a significant insurance claim

Vital documents also include

  • Original official documents issued by the government—local, state, national, or international or copies of any official forms prepared for or by the government.
  • Tax returns, official IRS reporting form (including 1099s and 1098s), or tax payment proof including canceled checks or bank statements with tax payment information.

However, this is not a tax prep checklist

Many experts advise keeping tax returns including schedules, reporting forms, and payments records for a lifetime. So yes, tax returns are on this list.

Tax support including payment records related but not limited to business, charitable deductions, education, healthcare, and other subjects are not detailed here. Why?

Because the Vital File is designed to keep your most essential documents safe and secure in a waterproof-fireproof filing container. Its other function is to provide you with a quick grab and go file—in the event you have to leave your home quickly. Putting a large volume of tax and other support records—the papers you only keep for a limited time will limit your ability to maintain your most essential lifetime and lifespan papers.

Keep the documents listed on this checklist in your Vital File

Extensive Guide To Essential Papers

Not your average boilerplate checklis of most essential papers to keep.

Check your Vitals

Vital Document Checklist | free

printable cover vital document checklist

This is a free download but requires your name and email. Your info will be kept private and will only be used to notify you of updates to this resource and new products.

Store challenging collections in your Important File

Many experts advise keeping paperwork related to challenging situations for a lifetime. Yep, you heard me, forever. However, it may not be practical to file all of those documents and records in your Vital File.

Create dedicated files for challenging subjects (like the ones listed below)—in your Important File. The bulk of these papers will support financial, legal, insurance, and tax needs if they arise, but hopefully, you will never have to refer to them again.

  • Adoption Records
  • Bankruptcy Records
  • Citizenship-Immigration Records
  • Civil-Criminal Records
  • Divorce-Custody Records
  • Estate Inheritance Records
  • Estate Trustee Records
  • Home Damage-Theft Records
  • Identity Recovery Records
  • Military Records
  • Tax Audit Support Records
  • Vehicle Accident-Theft Records

Extensive Guide To Essential Papers

Not your average boilerplate checklis of most essential papers to keep.

Check your Vitals

Vital Document Checklist | free

printable cover vital document checklist

This is a free download but requires your name and email. Your info will be kept private and will only be used to notify you of updates to this resource and new products.

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