Estate Planning Checklist
There are a variety of resources on-line that give you a very thorough list of what to bring to your lawyer when you are constructing your will. While these lists are detailed, they can seem overwhelming. There are, in fact, only a few major categories you need to keep in mind when you visit your lawyer.
Real Estate: For most people this is just your home, although some people have a second home. You will have to know how you and any other co-owners are listed on the title. If you have partial ownership of a family, summer home, try to find proof of your share. Lastly, don’t forget to bring in any paperwork related to timeshare ownership.
Cash: Bring in statements from all of your checking and savings accounts. Generally, these are easy to access online.
Investments and Retirement Accounts: In today’s world of job hopping and 401k accounts, these are the assets that tend to be most complicated. Gather together what you can. If you are missing some papers or suspect you have forgotten about an account, ask your lawyer to make a broad statement in your will about who will receive these assets. You will need to update your will on a regular basis, so you can always add more information later.
Businesses: Do you own a business? Bring in some proof of your stake in the business like articles of incorporation.
Cars and Boats: Bring in any loan documents or vehicle titles showing that you own your cars and boats.
Life Insurance: Technically, this is not an asset of your estate. Life insurance goes directly to the pre-selected beneficiaries. However, it’s good to note all of your life insurance policies in your estate plan.
Other: Some people have judgments that are owed to them, and these can be considered as part of your estate. In addition, if you have any possessions of substantial value (jewelry, art, gold) make sure to bring some proof of ownership along with a stated value.
Don’t delay in going to an estate planner because you don’t have all of your documents in order. An estate lawyer can help you create a broadly worded will that can later be adjusted to include the specifics of you estate.