What to File: Common Documents You’ll Probably Encounter

  • Post category:Legal Forms
  • Reading time:15 mins read
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  • Post last modified:April 17, 2024

Whether we find them interesting or not, documents of formal and legal importance are one of the foundations of our lives as citizens.  However, with the rise and fall of newer things in life and the surge of all the activities that we must, want to, and can do, filling out documents can become a chore. Daunting as it may seem, you only need to study a small amount of these documents before you get the hang of it.

In this article, we will explore some of these documents. In doing so, we might hopefully narrow down the long, long list of confusing forms we need to utilize. We will be going over four phases of life, each representing a significant stage in our life. Under these categories are some legal forms that people are advised to know and to familiarize themselves with, depending on their stage of life. 


As an Adolescent 

Our interactions with important legal documents must begin as early as possible as we will be encountering this nature of paperwork for the rest of their lives. Here are a few forms young adults need to be familiarized with:

Health Care Proxy

Health Care Proxy

Being independent of your parents is one of the milestones of growing up. However, when you become legally independent — that is of age 18 in some states or above — your parents will have a much more difficult time confirming their right to appear as your proxy and make decisions on your behalf in the case of a medical emergency. This is because by age 18 you are now able to independently assign the person to have that type of responsibility for you. Thus, to avoid problems in the case of a medical emergency that renders you unable to make sensible decisions, you must prepare earnestly.  This legal form will allow you to legally and formally recognize a person who can make medical decisions for you during unfortunate occasions — your parents, sibling, or a trusted friend. This form will allow you to assign them the scope and limitations of their responsibility. As it is an important document, you will need witnesses when certifying it. 

Driver’s License Application

DL 44 Driver License or Identification Card Application

A driver’s license is an iconic mark of independence for many people and it is not hard to see why. It is a legal identification document that allows a person to drive a vehicle — an integral part of adulthood. Since it is something that is issued by the government to you, it is expected that paperwork must be done. Driver’s license application forms differ from state to state, however, their formats and process of filing are similar, if not entirely the same. As young adults, this is probably one of the first sets of legal documents that you will have to fill out on your own. This is a good exercise in filing for identification documents and will definitely be useful in the future. 

Form 1098-T  (Tuition Statement)

Form 1098-T (Tuition Statement)As a student, this will probably be one of the earliest tax forms that you will encounter, especially if you are entering college. This document details tuition expenses and allows them to be accounted for when filing your taxes. This also allows the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) to know what type of educational credits you qualify for. In simpler terms, this records how much you paid for your education in a tax year. You will need this tax form if you want to keep your educational expenses in order. It is also good to remember that this document is not only useful to college students, anyone who wishes to advance their education and arrange their financial affairs to that end will find this document incredibly common and useful.


As an Adult

This section details forms that do not have strong ties with professional life and have more to do with a person’s private and personal affairs. 

Affidavit of Identity

Affidavit of Identity

As independent adults, the confirmation of identity is an important part of our daily lives. This is supported by the fact that there are so many documents and things that can be used to confirm one’s identity. One useful document for that purpose is an affidavit of identity. To clarify, an affidavit is a written statement that basically and legally swears the truthfulness of said statements. In this case, you are swearing that your identity as you have filled it out, is true and legal. This document can be used to obtain replacements for your IDs and to prove other documents that are assigned to a different name are pertaining to the same person. 

Proof of Residency


This document is also called the Affidavit of Residency and much like the previous document, this allows the affiant (the person who fills out the form) to have a sworn document of evidence that allows them to legally prove their right to earn the benefits of living in their residence. This document can settle land disputes as well as assist in the application of certain IDs such as a driver’s license. Usually, if you are a tenant, your landlord will be able to write this affidavit to prove the fact that you are a resident of their property.

Cohabitation Agreement

Cohabitation Agreement

This agreement is for people who wish to live together but are not yet married or are unable to do so due to circumstances. This legal agreement will allow you to essentially gain a similar binding, legal nature of marriage without undergoing the ceremony of marriage. Legally, those who fill out this agreement and have it approved will be treated as a married couple in terms of other documents where “spouses” and “marriage” can be applicable (e.g. child support, mortgage). Fill out this agreement if you want to formalize and legalize your togetherness with your significant other, but you cannot undergo marriage yet. 


As a Professional

This section will highlight documents that are more commonly needed in a professional setting. These documents often have to do with securing your work and abiding by the laws that govern the workplace. 

Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

Form 1040 or U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

This tax form is perhaps the most prominent and popular form for taxpayers. This is a tax document that many people have encountered and will encounter. This form will allow you to file a tax return, which is a calculation of your gross income and to figure out how much of it is taxable. In this calculation, you will ensure the amount of taxes you should be paying. The document is fairly detailed and will be able to handle multiple sources of income and will be able to assure you with more clarity concerning your taxes. 

Copyright License Agreement

Copyright License Agreement

This document is more for those who create content and products. This agreement allows a person to legally and formally grant the use and benefits of the rights of the copyrighted entity to another party. This will not transfer ownership of the copyright but merely allow the benefactor to use the copyrighted material under the terms of the agreement that will be written by the owner of the copyright. This ensures that there will be no unfair use of the material and no damages to the reputation of the owner will be done without consequences. When you are a content creator, you will need to keep your content secure. Thus, you can assure yourself by understanding this document as you will definitely need it in your future.

Form DS-11, U.S. Passport Application

DS-11 U.S. Passport Application

With the modernity of professional life and the variety of opportunities existent anywhere on the globe, traveling and the ability to do so allows you to access a lot of these opportunities. With this in mind, it is good to be able to acquire a passport. Having a passport will open up a number of opportunities for you and will allow you to expand your professional life beyond the locality of your own country. 


As a Senior Citizen

With the noon of life comes the inevitable twilight. Those who have experienced their prime are often left with questions on what to do next, now that they have spent their life and efforts dedicated to their pursuits and goals. The following documents are for the preparation of those who are prepared to give the world to the younger.

Last Will and Testament or Declaration of Revocable Living Trust 

Last Will and Testament

There is validity in a person’s fear of death. However, this fear involves the loss of the opportunity to take care of his or her properties and to have no knowledge of who they end up with. A Will or a Trust will ensure that you will have control over who gets what from your properties and will allow you to properly leave this world behind with the satisfaction that your property is in trusted hands. There are differences between a Trust and a Will, the most notable of which is that the latter will take effect only at the moment of your death and the former will take effect immediately after signing the documents. The Will is less detailed than a Trust and will have less control over the systemic distribution of properties. A trust should not have these concerns, however, a trust is often detailed and involves a greater number of processes. Whatever you choose, they both serve the same purpose and provide the same assurance that your belongings will find a home in a person who you trust will keep them well. 

Durable Power of Attorney 

Durable Power of Attorney (Is Effective Immediately)

There will come a time when a person will either physically or mentally not have the capability to handle the stress of managing finances. This document is basically assigning an agent (usually your attorney) to handle the activity for you. Normally, the transfer of this responsibility comes to effect when the principal is incapacitated or declared legally disabled. While this is convenient, it will still face problems in the processing. But with this document, you have the option of taking control of that process prematurely by assigning this responsibility to a person you trust even when you are perfectly fine. In whatever case, this will ensure that your financial affairs are in order even when you are not capable of doing so. 

Advance Health Directive

Advance Health Care Directive Letter

With age comes complications with health and the risk of not being able to make decisions on the matter of health. This is similar to the previous document mentioned as it also grants the responsibility of the decision-making to another person. This one has matters focused on health and healthcare. In addition, this document will also allow you to make decisions regarding more specific details for your healthcare such as matters concerning organ donation, specific treatment instruction, and the designation of a personal physician.


Bonus: As a Kid

Letter to Santa

Santa Letter Template

While the documents above are of a legal and formal nature, that sort of stuff does not really ring of any importance in the mind of a child. A lot of the forms and legal documents that we had when we were young were handled by our parents. But there is one type of “formal” document that we as children will have encountered due to the document being a fairly regular requirement that we had to “accomplish” as kids: A letter to Santa. 

From the starry-eyed ambitions of childhood wonder, there is something to enjoy about the fantasy of Christmas. It is funny to think that a general template for a letter to Father Christmas should exist, but when you think about how you have written your letters to Santa in the past, they generally sound the same but only with different wishes. Thus, it might be fun to tell children that Santa Claus likes his letters organized and when they write their wishes well, Santa has a better time looking for their wishes. It might also assist in teaching a child that a well-written letter is a generally positive thing. 



There are so many details in life that allow us the opportunities that we often enjoy. However, we often forget that the world does not run on words and thoughts alone. Words and thoughts must be put to paper and they must be validated to exist in the world. Thus, as citizens, we should be aware of the important documents we will encounter in life. 

Find more ready-to-fill-out forms at PDFRun.com’s Form Library.