Understanding the Basics

Estate Planning Checklist
  • Identify your wishes for your loved ones after your death (your estate plan). See the section Critical Decisions and fill out the "Estate Wishes" worksheet. Consider if you want to make any lifetime gifts as well.
  • Pinpoint which legal documents you will need to effectively put your plan into action. See the section Important Legal Documents to learn more.
  • Review assets that pass outside your will to see if they contradict your estate plan. If so, consider changing beneficiary designations or re-titling assets. See the section Important Legal Documents to understand which assets your will does not control.
  • Determine if you have enough assets to provide for your family after you die. If not, consider buying additional life insurance. If you need additional insurance, consider having a trust directly purchase the insurance for you to avoid estate taxation on the proceeds.
  • Make an appointment with a lawyer and get documents prepared. Review each document carefully; once you feel comfortable that you understand what they say, sign the documents.
  • Prepare your Letter of Instruction as soon as possible. See the section Important Legal Documents.
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