Estate Planning Checklist

Almost everyone has an estate of some size. Your estate consists of everything you currently own minus any liabilities: your house, your car, and your possessions. These are your assets, and you should be sure to include them in your estate plans. Estate planning allows you to care for your loved ones after you pass away. By creating your estate plans early, you can:
  • Prepare in advance for emergencies
  • Leave heirlooms to family members
  • Ensure your loved ones receive your savings
  • Make your medical wishes known
Create your free Last Will today

Set your estate planning goals

Determine who you’d like to leave your various assets to after your passing. If you have any dependents or pets, consider who should be their guardians. Think about individuals or organizations that you’d like to leave a gift or charitable donation to after your death. You’ll also need to choose at least one representative for your estate.

Document your assets and debts

List all assets, such as:
  • Real estate titles and balances
  • Business shares and values
  • Investments and banking account balances
  • Vehicles and their current worth
List all debts, such as:
  • Credit card balances
  • Loan balances
  • Mortgages
  • Money owed on vehicles

Choose your executor and attorney-in-fact

Your executor is a person of your choosing who is responsible for carrying out your Last Will and Testament after your passing. Your attorney-in-fact is the person you choose to make non-medical decisions on your behalf if you are unavailable. You assign power to your attorney-in-fact using a Power of Attorney.
Speak to your potential representatives. Explain their responsibilities, ensuring that they understand and agree to perform all necessary tasks. Inform your representatives of your current estate plans and goals, including where to find your estate planning documents. Be sure to let your family know who your chosen representatives are.

Consider your medical and care preferences

Think about your values and preferences regarding your medical care and remains, including:
  • What would you like done with your remains?
  • Would you like to donate your organs?
  • Will you authorize the use of palliative care or resuscitation devices?
  • Who would you allow to make healthcare decisions on your behalf?

Create your documents

To complete your estate plan, create a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, and End-of-Life Plan. Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork, including copies of:
  • Real estate titles and deeds
  • Share certificates
  • Proof of ownership for vehicles and other high-valued assets
  • Marriage, divorce, and separation papers
  • Adoption or birth certificates of dependents
  • Gift Deed(s)
You may also wish to include a list of passwords for your digital accounts, such as:
  • Social media accounts
  • Bank accounts
  • Online business or real estate portfolios
You can state where your list of passwords is located and other emergency instructions with LawDepot’s Just-in-Case Instructions. This document contains important personal information that someone would need to manage your affairs when you can’t.

Store your estate plans in a safe place

Provide copies of your documents for your attorney-in-fact and representatives. Store copies of your document in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box, trustee company, or bank. Don’t forget to inform your representatives of codes or combinations to access the documents.

Keep your estate plan up-to-date

You should update your estate plan after major life events, such as:
  • Getting married, divorced, or separated
  • The death of a representative
  • The death of a beneficiary
  • Purchasing any major assets (such as a car or house)
  • Losing or acquiring debt
  • Having or adopting children
After updating your estate documents, let your representatives and attorney-in-fact know.
Ready to create your first free legal document?
Know someone who could benefit from this information? Pass it along: