Here's what it contained:
- Living will/advance directives
- Social Security card
- Proof of military service and honorable discharge*
- Official copy of his birth certificate**
- Official copies of his parents' birth certificates **
- Statement from the bank account he shared with me, so I could immediately pay his bills and funeral expenses
- A printout of an Amazon page for a book about humanist funeral services, on which he wrote the music he'd like played at his service!
*If the deceased was honorably discharged from the military, he or she will get a discount on funeral expenses, and the funeral home will provide an American flag (folded into a presentation triangle) on request for no charge.
** The funeral home prepares the death certificate (I suggest asking for eight certificates, since you will need to surrender them for financial and other purposes). The funeral home application requires specific information from all these asterisked documents. The drudgery of filling out the long and repetitive application was made much easier on the traumatic day of my father's death by having these documents on hand. The funeral home will need copies of military letters and your driver's license, so unless you have a fax, it would be extra wise to scan these documents and keep the digital copies easy to find.
Why "tin box"? I think his parents must have kept their important documents in a tin box like the one at right, and he carried on the name. This one is for sale online from someone else's estate. If you want a new document box just like my dad's, the one at left got good reviews on Amazon.
Think ahead, and leave your affairs in good order, like my dear old dad. It will make your survivors' lives so much easier, and it will be very comforting to them on the day they lose you to know that you loved them enough to take care of these issues while still living.