What Do You Need to Create Your Estate Plan?

There isn’t a lot of crazy information in this one. It’s just a list.

One thing I do want to point out, though is that this list is not like other estate planning attorneys’ lists. We don’t just fill in blanks here. We create wealth and protect families.

That only happens if there is more to this process than writing down some bank account numbers.

Nuts and Bolts of an Estate Plan

With that being said, though, there are some nuts and bolts you are going to need. Here is that list:

  • The names, addresses, birth dates, and any disabilities or special needs of your spouse, children, and any other relatives whom you might want to include in your will;
  • The names, addresses, and phone numbers of possible guardians (if you have young children) and executors or trustees;
  • The amount and sources of your income, including interest, dividends, and other household income, such as your spouse’s salary or income your children bring home, if they live with you;
  • The amounts and sources of all your debts, including mortgages, installment loans, leases, and business debts;
  • The amounts, sources, and beneficiaries of any retirement benefits, including IRAs, pensions, Keogh accounts, government benefits, and profit-sharing plans;
  • The amounts, sources, and account numbers of other financial assets, including bank accounts, annuities, outstanding loans, and the like, and names of any joint owners or pay-on-death designees;
  • A list of life insurance policies, including the account balances, issuer, owner, beneficiaries, and any amounts borrowed against the policies;
  • A list (with approximate values) of valuable property you own, including real estate, jewelry, furniture, jointly-owned property (name the co-owner), collections, heirlooms, and other assets. This list could be cross-referenced with the names of the people to whom you might want to leave each item;
  • The names, trustees, and assets of any trusts held for your benefit; and
  • Any documents that might affect your estate plan, including prenuptial agreements, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, recent tax returns, existing wills and trusts, property deeds, and so on.

Creating Legacy with your Estate Plan

If all you want to do is path on your wealth when you die, we can make that happen for you. But there is so much more you have to give than just money.

I’m talking about experiences, family stories, life lessons, and wisdom. We like to make this a part of the estate plans of our clients (and make the process of documenting all of that very easy).

Here are just a couple of the things to think about:

  • Stories associated with any of the property that you own that demonstrate the importance of that object to your family or to you personally;
  • The major life events that will be coming up with your family that you might miss and still want to be a part of (kid milestone birthdays, kid weddings, kid college graduation, etc.);
  • Important family history that you want passed down to the next generation;
  • How you want your burial handled; and
  • Any other intangible thing you can think of that you don’t want to end when you pass away.

Don’t wait until you want to meet with an estate planning attorney to put all of this stuff together. Create a document on your computer and start building it little by little. In no time it will be done and you’ll be ready to come and talk to me!


Christopher Small

P.S. Do you have kids? Have you completed guardianship paperwork? Have you done it correctly? Click here to find out what happens if you don’t do anything: Are you okay with a judge choosing the guardians of your children?

P.P.S. Do you own a business? Do you have a plan so the business, and your family, can survive if something happens to you? If not, click here to learn how simple it is to protect your business and your family from tragedy: 5 Ways to Protect Your Business from Catastrophic Failure.

P.P.S. Do you have no kids and think you don’t need an estate plan? Single and think a will is only for married couples. You couldn’t be more wrong. Click here to learn more: 5 reasons estate planning is a must have even if you don’t have kids.

Christopher Small is a Kirkland estate planning attorney who helps people get rich and live forever. He is also the owner of CMS Law Firm LLC.