There are certain documents in life you can’t get by without. These documents prove important information about you, such as where you were born, your legal name, and your marital status. Obtaining certified, legal copies of these records for your files is not only wise, it’s a must. Without these documents, you’re unable to obtain other services or required documents such as your driver’s license, a place to live, or even a job.

What You’ll Need

Here is a list of vital documents to keep in your possession.

  • Birth & Death Certificates
  • Marriage License/Certificate
  • Divorce Decree
  • Social Security Card
  • Military Service record – DD214

It is always a good idea to have your certified birth certificate with the raised state seal, as well as a certified death certificate of your loved ones on hand. Why? Your birth certificate is your original form of ID, which proves your age, your citizenship, and your identity. Death certificates help to settle the estate of any deceased family members and affects spouses and dependents of the deceased. You’ll want to keep a complete set of paper records for everyone in the family. While the digital age has modernized replacing birth and death certificates, many older documents (pre-1940) require additional time and can not be ordered online.

Your marriage license is the legal document that allows you to get married, while a marriage certificate is the document that proves you’re married. However, a marriage license and certificate may not be separate documents. Your state might refer to the same document as a marriage license before you’re married, and a marriage certificate after it’s been signed, returned, and certified by the government official. You can read more about this at Your marriage license is also vital for claiming Social Security benefits, as well as obtaining a legal separation or divorce.

If you’re already divorced, you’ll need your divorce decree to apply for a new marriage license before remarriage. This decree also proves any alimony and/or child support you’re owed as well as the date your divorce became legal.

Your Social Security card is not considered a valid primary ID; however, it is generally accepted as a complementary, or secondary, ID. While memorizing your Social Security number is convenient, presenting a physical card is required to prove your number to a new employer, conduct business at a Social Security office, or secure a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license.

Your military service record (DD214) proves the length of your service, as well as any awards or decorations you’ve earned, security clearance, and performance reports. As a veteran or a veteran dependent, presenting this record is required to access services and benefits of military service, including making a request for a veteran’s funeral honors.

How to Order These Documents

Many documents will be available within the county where these life events occurred. Begin your search by seeking out the local county vital records office. If you are replacing multiple vital documents, start your search at, a centralized portal to speed up the task. If these events happened overseas, you can visit the US State Department online to order any of the documents issued.

For marriage licenses and/or certificates, however, there is a limitation on who can order them. These cannot be ordered by any curious party, but only by those who have an interest in the marriage, such as one of the individuals within the marriage, the parents and/or legal guardians of the individual(s), a law enforcement officer, someone in the immediate family to the married individuals (child, grandchild, sibling, etc.), or an attorney who represents one of the individuals in the marriage, or their estate.

When you need to replace your Social Security card, visit for more information about the best way to request a new copy.

If a copy of your DD214 military service record is needed, you can request one online at:

At Organized Instincts, our team of daily money managers will help you replenish your vital records files. Schedule a no-obligation conversation today and hear how our team eliminates frustrating searches for life’s most important paperwork and makes your life easier in the long run.

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