Estate Planning Checklist

Once you have detailed your assets, chosen beneficiaries and executors or trustees, and decided on how to disperse your assets, you should choose the most effective ways to accomplish and document the estate plan. Here is a checklist of the tools, documents, information, and measures that you need to make estate planning more efficient, especially if time is limited.

Necessary Documents and Information

Settling your affairs is a difficult and time-consuming task. Without all of the needed documents and information the process is even more so and may take years to complete.

These are most of the documents and information that should be organized and made easily available to the appropriate people.

PDF Checklist
  1. Advance Directive
    • Living Will
    • HealthCare Proxy
    • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR), POLST, or MOLST
  2. Any Professionals Consulted
    • Lawyer
    • Accountant
    • Insurance agent
    • Healthcare providers
    • Financial planner
    • Banker
  3. Automatically Renewing Medications
    • Names of medications
    • Name of pharmacy where medications are renewed
    • Name of doctor who prescribed medication
  4. Bank Accounts
    • Checking accounts
    • Savings accounts
    • Money market accounts
    • Certificates of deposit (CDs)
    • Debit cards
    • Corresponding PIN numbers, if needed
  5. Beneficiary Designation Form
    • Life insurance policies
    • Health Savings Accounts
    • Annuities
    • Retirement plans, pensions, IRAs, and 401(k)s
    • Pay-on-death bank accounts
    • Transfer-on-death (TOD) property
      • Stocks, bonds, real estate, or vehicles
      • Any other property with a title or deed
  6. Cryptocurrency
    • Account, such as Coinbase
    • Value of any Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, etc.
  7. Credit Cards
    • Card number
    • Expiration date
    • Recent account statements
    • Login and password information for online account management
    • If signed up for automatic payments
  8. Email Username and Password
    • Gmail
    • Hotmail
    • Yahoo! Mail
    • AOL
    • etc.
  9. Household Utilities
    • Electricity
    • Gas
    • Water
    • Phone
    • Cable
    • Internet
  10. Insurance Policies
    • Life Insurance
    • Health Insurance
    • Car Insurance
    • Home Insurance
    • Other Insurance policies (theft, fire, earthquake, etc.)
  11. Investment Portfolios
    • Stocks
    • Bonds
    • Mutual funds
  12. Last Will And Testament
    • Copy of the will
    • Copy of any attachments to the will, such as:
      • personal property memorandum 
      • digital assets memorandum
    • Copies of previous versions of the will
    • Name of attorney or law firm that helped create the will, if applicable
  13. Memberships
    • AARP
    • Health or other similar clubs
    • Fraternal organizations, such as Lions, Rotary, and Shriners
    • VA
  14. Mortgages or Loans
    • Company through which mortgage or loan was given
    • A copy of the mortgage or loan agreement
  15. Tax Returns
    • Most recent W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return
    • Income tax returns for the current and previous year, including 1040 variations and 1099s, if applicable
    • Gift tax returns
  16. Personal Property Memorandum with Titles or Deeds to Any Property
    • Real estate
    • Motor vehicles
    • Boats
    • etc.
  17. Trusts/Living Trusts
    • Declarations of trust or trust agreements
    • Name of attorney or law firm that helped create the trust, if applicable
    • Bank accounts or other assets associated with the trust
    • Beneficiary Designation form
    • Amendment and Restatement of Trust
    • Pour-over Will to appoint guardian and account for other unnamed assets
    • Trustee Designation form
  18. Online Businesses and Shopping Accounts
    • Amazon
    • PayPal
    • Ebay
    • any other site that has your credit card information
  19. Passwords, Usernames, Domain Names, Account Numbers, etc.
    • files containing financial and estate information
    • active websites, such as online shopping, multimedia, and subscription
    • computer and smartphone, to find the contact information for friends and colleagues
    • email
    • patient portals
  20. Pension Plans and Retirement Benefit Information, including account numbers
    • 401(k) or 403(b) plans
    • IRAs
    • Roth IRAs
    • Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan
    • Salary Reduction Simplified Employee Pension (SARSEP) plan
    • VA pensions
  21. Power Of Attorney – Financial
    • Name of the person appointed to Power Of Attorney
    • Power Of Attorney documentation
    • Name of attorney or law firm that helped create the POA, if applicable
  22. Proof of Identity and Relationships
    • Social Security card
    • Armed Forces discharge papers
    • Birth certificate
    • Death certificate
    • Marriage certificates
    • Divorce certificates
    • Prenuptial agreements
    • Divorce settlements
  23. Safe Deposit Boxes
    • Location of safe deposit boxes
    • Safe deposit box keys or location of safe deposit box keys
    • Having access to a safety deposit box does not imply entitlement to the contents.
  24. Social Media Accounts with instructions on what to do with the accounts
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • LinkedIn
    • etc.
  25. Funeral Instructions
    • Prepaid funeral information
    • Burial or Cremation instructions
    • Obituary

Other Estate Planning Measures Needing Documentation

  • Such as:
    • Deathbed Gifts
    • Estate Freeze
      • Annuities
      • Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts
      • Convert Common Stock to Preferred Stock
      • Grantor Retained Annuity Trust for Family Businesses
    • Ethical Will
    • Mirror, Mutual, or Joint Will
    • Provisions for your pets
    • Right of Survivorship with either:
    • Joint Tenant
    • Tenants by Entirety
    • Community property

General References

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