Estate Planning Checklist: What to Do Before You Die

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Estate Planning Checklist

Review your current estate plan

If you already have an estate plan, reviewing it periodically to ensure it meets your needs is essential, especially for protecting your assets. It would be best to do this at least every two years or after significant life changes, such as getting married or divorced, having children, or acquiring significant assets. Ensuring that your bank accounts are FDIC-insured is also crucial, as this can provide additional protection for your funds.

Determine your estate planning goals

Before creating or updating your estate plan, you need to identify your goals. For example, do you want to provide for your spouse and children? Minimize taxes? Leave a legacy to charity? Once you’ve identified your goals, you can work with an estate planning attorney to create a plan that meets them.

Create or update your will

Your will is the centerpiece of your estate plan and should be updated whenever there are changes in your life or circumstances. It outlines who will receive your assets, who will be the executor of your estate, and who will be the guardians of your minor children if you have any.

Establish a trust

A trust is a legal entity that can hold assets for the benefit of your beneficiaries. There are many types of trusts, each with its benefits and drawbacks. You should work with an estate planning attorney to determine whether a trust is right for you and, if so, which type of trust to create.

Consider a power of attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that designates someone to act on your behalf in financial or legal matters if you cannot do so yourself. Again, choosing someone you trust and who understands your wishes is essential.

Review beneficiary designations

Many of your assets, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies, allow you to designate beneficiaries. Reviewing these designations periodically ensures they are up-to-date and reflect your wishes.

Estate Planning Checklist

Checklist Before You Die

Organize your financial and legal documents

Before you die, you must ensure your financial and legal documents are organized and easily accessible to your loved ones. This includes your will, trust documents, power of attorney, beneficiary designations, bank account statements, investment account statements, and insurance policies.

Create a letter of instruction

A letter of instruction is a non-binding document that outlines your wishes and guides your loved ones after you pass away. It can include information such as where important documents are located, who should be notified of your passing, and your funeral or burial preferences.

Estate Documents Checklist

  • Will
  • Trust documents
  • Power of attorney
  • Beneficiary designations
  • Health care directives
  • Letter of instruction
Estate Planning Checklist 2023

What To Do Before You Die Checklist

Make a list of essential contacts.

This includes family members, close friends, and professional advisors, such as your attorney, accountant, and financial advisor.

Communicate your wishes

Communicating your wishes to your loved ones before you pass away is essential. This includes your end-of-life preferences, funeral or burial arrangements, and any special requests you may have.

Estate Planning Lit

  • Review your current estate plan
  • Determine your estate planning goals
  • Create or update your will

Next Steps

Estate planning is a process that often requires some time, effort, and legal expertise. However, the peace of mind gained when we have taken the necessary steps to ensure our assets are protected and our families are provided for can be priceless. Regardless of how far along you may be in your planning journey, understanding your options and recognizing the steps needed to begin will help you make informed decisions about providing for your family and giving directions for your legacy. Contact us today for more information!

Estate Planning Checklist

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the five components of estate planning?

Asset inventory, beneficiary designations, will or trust, power of attorney, and healthcare directive.

What should be included in a will checklist?

Executor, beneficiaries, assets, debts, and distribution.

What makes a good estate plan?

Customized, comprehensive, flexible, up-to-date, and communicated.

What is an estate planning checklist?

List of tasks to complete for a comprehensive estate plan.

What are some examples of estate planning?

Will, trust, power of attorney, healthcare directive, gifting.

What are the four must-have documents?

Will, durable power of attorney, healthcare directive, and living will.

What are the two key documents used to prepare an estate plan?

Will and trust.

What should I avoid in a will?

Ambiguity, mistakes, and incomplete information.

What are the most important things to put in a will?

Executor, beneficiaries, assets, debts, and distribution.

What are the seven steps of preparing a will?

Gather information, choose an executor, list beneficiaries, designate asset distribution, name a guardian, draft and sign, and store safely.

What is an estate planning worksheet?

A form to gather and organize personal and financial information.

What documents do I need to put my affairs in order?

Will, power of attorney, healthcare directive, and trust (if applicable).

What assets should be considered when planning your estate?

Real estate, investments, retirement accounts, personal property, and life insurance.

What should be on a list of assets?

Bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, real estate, and personal property.

What are some examples of assets that can be left to beneficiaries?

Cash, investments, real estate, and personal property.

At what age do most people do estate planning?

Age 55 or older.

What are the essential factors to consider in estate planning?

Family, assets, taxes, and health.

What are the three main priorities you want to ensure with your estate plan?

Control, protection, and distribution of assets.

*Disclosure: Some of the links in this guide may be affiliate links. I may receive a commission at no cost if you purchase a policy. It helps us keep the lights on!

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Shawn Plummer is a licensed financial professional, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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