Replacing Government Documents
The documents most commonly in need of replacement are government documents. That's because you're often legally disallowed from having duplicates, such as with passports and driver's licenses.
That said, just because you lost them doesn't mean they can't be replaced.
Lost birth, marriage, or death certificate: The CDC has a great webpage that can get you in touch with your local vital records office.
Lost passport: If you've lost your passport, head to Travel.State.Gov. Keep in mind that you there are additional steps to take if your passport was stolen as opposed to simply lost.
Lost tax returns: The IRS can supply you with past filed tax returns. You'll be charged $57 for each request, however.
Lost driver's license: Contact your local DMV to get started on a replacement driver's license. We've put together a state DMV office location page to help.
Replacing Legal Documents
Legal documents can be more difficult. If you've filed them with the court (such as divorce documents or articles of incorporation), you should be able to contact your state or county government to get another copy.
But for other legal documents and forms---such as Promissory Notes or Powers of Attorney---you simply may not be able to reproduce an original. That's why it's important to take steps and make duplicates of your important paperwork or store your legal documents online, in the cloud. You can learn more about how to store your important documents in our help article.
If you didn't make copies, don't worry. If you used an attorney, chances are they may have kept one for you. If you've made a contract or agreement with someone, chances are they have a copy as well. If neither is the case, keep in mind that many documents can be recreated. A Last Will and Testament, for example, often contains language that invalidates any Wills made prior to that one.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.