Start the Process

Get an estimate of the timeline with your healthcare providers to help determine what and how urgent these planning measures should be. If you have already started, determine what remaining tasks you need to finish, including a will or trust, power of attorney, healthcare proxy, and/or advanced directives. If you haven’t started, consider seeking an estate planner as soon as possible to complete the process before your death.

Make a List of and Organize All of These


  • Real estate and personal property
  • Bank and money market  accounts
  • Digital property
  • Safe deposit boxes and keys
  • Investments
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Real estate
  • Retirement accounts and annuities
  • Profit-sharing plans
  • Loans to family members
  • Life, car, home, and other insurance


  • Loans
  • Credit card debt and information
  • Leases and mortgages, along with documents
  • Current monthly bills
  • Estimated tax payments due

Important documents

  • Proof of identity and relationships
  • Your will and/or trusts
  • Legal power of attorney
  • Advance Directive
  • Titles/deeds to real estate and personal property
  • Life insurance plans
  • Income tax returns for the last two years
  • Latest bank and investment account statements
  • Payment books

Store all financial information and documents in a safe place, which could include a password-protected file, and make sure your heirs know how to access them. There may be software alternatives.

It is also important to provide passwords and usernames for all your active websites, so that:

  • Any person with Power of Attorney can access and manage these sites;
  • An heir can access them after your death without losing valuable data, such as important documents and pictures; and
  • Email, online shopping, multimedia, and subscriptions can be easily canceled before they can be used for identity theft.

Consider using a third-party password manager like LastPass, KeePass, and DashLane.

It may also be more efficient if you include your partner or children as joint owner on any account that regularly bills for services, such as your cable, internet, cell phone, club memberships, and utilities.