Important papers and documents you need to keep safe for future use

One challenge often faced by family members after the death of a parent, spouse or other loved one, is finding important paperwork.  Here are some of the documents that family members may need access to.  These should be considered important documents and they should be kept safely for future use.

Life insurance policies

You might be surprised to learn that life insurance policies are difficult for family members to locate after a death. In fact, nearly 20% of life insurance policies are misplaced and turned over to states according to the National Unclaimed Property Network.  All life insurance policies along with any addendum should be considered important papers and should be kept safely for future use.

Bank statements

Heirs are often in the dark about checking, savings, IRA, and other financial accounts that are held by family members. It is critical that bank statements are kept safe for future use.  Along with the stress of a death in the family, trying to find bank statements to make sure all assets are accounted for can add additional stress.  Considering bank statements important documents will help keep them safely for future use.

Stock certificates or statements

In most cases today, stock certificates are held in "street name" by the brokerage house that maintains financial accounts.  Because of this, it may make it more difficult to track stocks and bonds that are owned.  Rather than have family members trying to determine what you own for stocks, bonds and other financial instruments, keep careful records. These can be maintained in a file on your computer or may be kept in a folder in a safe place.  A record of dividend or interest checks should also be kept safely for future use.

Real estate information

While family members may be aware you own one (or more) pieces of real estate, there are other considerations that must be paid attention to if someone dies.  Deeds, mortgage documents, tax bills, and insurance documents should be considered important documents.  These must be kept safely for future use.

Trust instruments and wills

Over the years, if you have a trust document or a will, you may have made changes to it.  Keep all documents along with changes in a safe place along with the name and telephone number of any attorney or other person who has assisted in the preparation of these documents.

There are several important papers and documents that you need to keep safely for future use. These are just a small sampling of them.  If you are in doubt as to whether a document might be important, it is better to keep it safely.