Estate Planning Checklist to Make Sure Your Estate is Covered

estate planning checklist

A complete estate plan is more than just a will. Make sure your estate is covered, and your personal wishes are met, by using this estate planning checklist with must-have documents for estate planning. Knowing you have what you need in place now will give you and your loved one’s peace of mind when your health begins to fail, or it comes time to administer your estate.

Estate Planning Documents Checklist

Estate planning is complex, and while many people think that a Last Will & Testament will be enough to pass their assets—and their wishes—on to their loved ones, this is usually not the case. Making sure your estate is covered includes making sure you have all the correct legal documentation to cover each and every part of the estate, which typically requires multiple documents. A complete estate plan could include a:

  • Last Will & Testament: Controls distribution of assets through probate
  • Trust document: Create, fund, and control a living revocable trust or irrevocable trust
  • Personal representative designation: Names who will administer your estate
  • Guardian designation for minor children: Names who will care for your children
  • Guardian and conservator nomination: Names who will make decisions if you are incapacitated
  • Disposition of property: Describes how assets should be distributed
  • Financial power of attorney: Gives authority to manage your finances
  • Medical power of attorney or patient advocate designation: Gives authority to make medical decisions for you
  • HIPAA Release: Allows doctors and hospitals to talk to your loved ones about your condition
  • Living Will or healthcare directives: Directs your preferred end-of-life medical care
  • Funeral and burial instructions: Describes how you want your remains treated
  • Beneficiary designations for life insurance, retirement accounts, and annuities: Names who should receive these benefits

Many of the items on the estate planning checklist can be included in a single document — most often a will or trust document. Others must be completed multiple times for each bank, insurance account, or doctor. At Berman & Associates, our experienced estate planning attorneys make certain that each estate plan we create includes all the necessary documents to cover you, your care, and your property. We work with our clients to identify their assets and draft all the must have documents for estate planning in a way that honors their families and their wishes.

What Do I Need to Bring for Estate Planning

Before your consultation with a Berman & Associates estate planning attorney, it is a good idea to put together information. The information that is needed will vary depending on your lifestyle, family setup, investments, and more, but it is good to make sure you can answer a list of questions about:

  • Who are your legal family members?
  • Which friends and fictive kin (i.e. “Aunts” and “Uncles”) do you want to include in your estate plan?
  • Do you have a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement with your spouse?
  • What homes, land or other real property do you own?
  • Are there mortgages, liens, or loans against your property?
  • Where do you maintain bank or financial accounts?
  • What stocks, bonds, or investments do you own?
  • Do you have a cryptocurrency account?
  • Are you a shareholder in a business?
  • What social media or digital storage platforms do you have accounts on?
  • What life insurance policies do you maintain?
  • Which vehicles, personal property items or collections should be specifically included?
  • Are there charities or religious organizations you want to leave money to?
  • Do you have an existing estate plan you need to update?
  • Do any of your heirs have special needs or concerns?

If there are specific documents — such as an existing estate plan, prenuptial agreement, or shareholder agreement — bring copies with you to your initial consultation or provide them to your attorney after the meeting. No one expects you to have everything checked off your estate planning checklist before you sit down with an estate planning attorney. However, the more prepared you are, the easier it will be for your attorney to guide you through making the hard decisions.

Get Started Completing Your Estate Planning Checklist

When you show up to Berman & Associates for your initial consultation, our experienced estate planning attorneys will review all the information you have brought with you, and answer any questions you may have. We will guide you through the estate planning document checklist, assist you in making choices about your wishes and your estate, and then prepare all the appropriate estate planning documents. We welcome you to contact us to set up an interview to work through the checklist and make preparations for your estate plan.

Categories: Estate Planning