The Essential Pieces of Estate Planning Paperwork You Need

I read this informative Money ( article by Jill Schlesinger regarding estate planning and thought I’d share.

One important take away is that you need to prepare these items now, so they will be available if and when needed. Many people mistakenly like to put off this task until another time down the road.

"Below is their checklist:

Estate Planning Documents

Note: Parents should complete the following legal paperwork.

  • Will: A legal document that ensures that your assets are passed to your designated beneficiaries, in accordance with your wishes. In the drafting process, you'll name an executor, who is the person or institution that oversees the distribution of your assets. If you have minor children, you need to name a guardian for them.
  • Power of attorney: Allows you to appoint someone to act as your agent in a variety of circumstances, like withdrawing money from a bank, responding to a tax inquiry or making a trade.
  • Health care proxy: Allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions on your behalf if you lose the ability to do so.
  • Trusts (if applicable): Depending on your family needs and tax situations, you may have either revocable (changeable) or irrevocable (not-changeable) trusts. One factor is the size of your estate: For 2016, the first $5.45 million of an estate is exempt from federal estate taxes. If an estate is above the threshold (or twice that for married couples), a revocable trust may be suitable.
  • "DNR" order (if applicable): You may need to complete a "do not resuscitate" order each time you enter a hospital or nursing home.

Account List

You should also complete, and share, a list of multiple accounts that heirs might need to access.

  • Bank and brokerage accounts
  • 401(k) accounts
  • IRAs and Roth IRAs
  • All auto-pay accounts, with name and contact information for each payee
  • Safe-deposit boxes
  • Pension documents
  • Annuity contracts
  • Savings bonds (with copies of the actual bonds)
  • Life insurance policies
  • Long Term Care insurance policies

If there are related online usernames and passwords that someone will need to access, print out a list, stash it in a safe or other secure location, and then (this is important)  make sure that your executor or heirs know how to find it.

Other Documents

Finally, there are several other pieces of paperwork that, if applicable, can be quite helpful to heirs.

  • Previous three year's tax returns
  • Housing, land and cemetery deeds
  • Mortgage accounts
  • Proof of loans made
  • Vehicle title
  • Partnership and corporate operating agreements
  • Marriage license and/or divorce papers, if applicable
  • Military discharge information

Important contacts: Names and current addresses for all people named in the legal documents, as well as the contact information for the estate attorney and CPA who will be handling the estate.”1

Click on web link below to read their entire article and view video:

1. Source: Money web article “24 Essential Pieces of Estate Planning Paperwork You Need” by 
Jill Schlesinger located at:

Click below web link to read one of my related blog posts:

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