Family files include marriage certificate, birth certificate, death certificate

Your Family Files (1): Civil Registry Documents


If you had to leave your home in an emergency, and could only take three things with you, what would these be? Could you easily grab your important family files before swinging out the door?

Let us say that there is no emergency, but you need a document urgently. For instance, your son is looking for his birth certificate so he could join a school sports competition. Or you need to check if your fire insurance policy should be renewed. Perhaps a loved one just passed away and his Last Will and Testament should be retrieved. Or there may be  similar situations.

Emergency or not, you need to keep  your most important family files within easy reach. At the same time, you must keep these documents in a safe place.

It’s true that you could get copies of lost documents  such as land titles and birth certificates from the proper government offices. But this would be cumbersome, and involve time and expenses. Besides, if your important items are heirlooms or rare souvenir pieces, you can’t recover them anymore.


Your most important family files

Let me go back to my question – could you easily grab your most family files if you had to leave home in an emergency? 

First, you have to know what these important family files are.  I have identified the top 15 documents which I will discuss in this series of posts. I’ve also come up with checklists for your use. Feel free to shorten or expand  my lists for your purposes.

Second, when I say documents, I really mean categories. There can be more than one document for every category. The first category are “Civil Registry” documents which include certificates of birth, marriage and death. As we go along, I will enumerate more documents for each category. 

For those of you who are keen on keeping your lives in order, this is the place to start. Doing this will  greatly contribute to your peace of mind.


Civil Registry Documents

Birth, marriage and deaths are important family life events. Government agencies issue official documents that record these. Certificates of birth, marriage and death are known as civil registry documents. In the Philippines, the Local Civil Registrar issues these documents.

This category also includes court decisions about change of name and correction or cancellation of civil registry entries (such as birthplace or birth day). It also includes adoption, legal separation, annulment of marriage, declaration of nullity of marriage, and divorce papers.

These records have legal effects on your family members’ rights and obligations.

a. Birth certificates

A birth certificate documents a person’s legal existence. Without any birth certificate, a person is not legally recognized. He has no official record of his existence.

More than existence, a birth certificate also records a person’s name, nationality, parents, birth date, birth place and legitimacy status.

In the web article entitled “Importance of Birth Registration”  on the website of Voices of Youth, Social Activist Divya Sharma explains that “Without a birth certificate, children may lack access to services like health care and education. A lack of recognition and support will ultimately make the life of children more complex as they grow older.”

She adds that “A simple birth certificate opens up the world of opportunities for a child”, such as access to health care, education, protection, inheritance, and a permanent record of existence.

We need birth certificates for school registration, to get a driver’s license, marriage license and passport. We also need these to claim social security and retirement benefits, among others.

b. Marriage certificates

A husband and wife prove their legal relationship through their marriage certificate. It records their date of marriage, place of marriage, name of officiating officer, and witnesses.

A marriage certificate is  needed for a number of reasons. A wife who wants to use her husband’s surname in her driver’s license, passport or other official papers must present it as proof. It’s also needed  to claim health and life insurance benefits, and for tax purposes.

In some states, husband and wife must transact jointly in buying a house and lot, and may need to present their  marriage certificate as part of the transaction documents.

c. Death certificates

A death certificate legally proves that a person has passed away. It shows the date, place and cause of death.

It is needed when the deceased left properties and funds, and there are heirs who are entitled to inherit them. 

The deceased may also have left bank accounts. These cannot be closed or withdrawn easily. The heirs must first present a death certificate and a deed of extrajudicial settlement executed by them before the bank will allow closure. If the deceased died with a Last Will,  it must be subject to probate proceedings before the accounts can be touched or closed.

A death certificate is also needed to claim insurance proceeds, death benefits, and funeral benefits.

Another important effect of the issuance of a death certificate is that the deceased person’s name will be removed from the registry of voters after the local civil registrar reports it to the government agency in charge of election records.

To help you organize, here’s a checklist for your use:


  1. Birth certificates
  2. Marriage certificates
  3. Death certificates
  4. Change of name
  5. Correction or cancellation of entries in the civil registry
  6. Adoption
  7. Legal separation
  8. Annulment of marriage
  9. Declaration of nullity of marriage
  10. Divorce
  11. Child support
  12. Child custody
  13. Others

All these for now. The next post will deal with Passports and Travel Documents.

This post is taken from my free ebook, YOUR FAMILY FILES. Get the free ebook now through this link. 



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