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Estate Organizing Checklist

Feel free to use this tip sheet / checklist as you tackle your own ""do-it-yourself"" organizing projects. If you would like to REPRINT or DISTRIBUTE this information, please click here for reprinting instructions.


  • lawyer and executor of your will
  • accountant, CPA, and bookkeeper
  • stock broker, investment counselor, and financial advisor
  • insurance agents (life, home, auto, etc.)
  • business associates and partners
  • family, friends, and colleagues


  • legal (wills, powers of attorney, trust documents, safe deposit box)
  • family (birth, adoption, guardianship, citizenship, marriage, divorce)
  • banking (loans, list of accounts, statements, cancelled checks, passbooks)
  • investments (CD, securities, stocks, bonds, retirement, annuities)
  • business (incorporation papers, contracts, agreements, computer back-up)
  • deeds and titles (title insurance, property, home inventory, vehicles)
  • insurance (life, death benefits, property, health, homeowners, auto)
  • military (service records, discharge, pension)
  • ID (passport, driver's license, social security card)
  • income tax records


  • Have you outlined your funeral arrangements and burial plans?
  • Have you purchased a cemetery plot?
  • Have you purchased a pre-paid funeral or cremation plan?
  • Have you selected the music, prayers, and readings for your service?
  • Have you made it known what you don't want to happen at your service?
  • i.e. religious prayers, open casket viewing, etc.


  • Have you set up guardianship papers for your children?
  • Do you know how much money your family needs to replace your income?
  • Do you have adequate current life insurance to cover your family's needs?
  • Do you have enough money specifically set aside to pay the cost of dying?
  • including inheritance taxes, executor, and probate fees
  • Do you have money set aside or LTC insurance for long-term medical costs?
  • Do you have beneficiaries for your accounts, investments, and insurance?


  • Have you set up a trust to protect your assets from undue taxation?
  • Do you know how much inheritance tax will be due on your assets?
  • Do you know how much it will cost to have your will probated?
  • Have you left assets to your spouse which can be received tax-free?
  • Have you begun gifting tax-free money to your children prior to your death?
  • Are you planning to make a charitable gift as part of your estate plan?


  • Do you have a current, up-to-date, signed will?
  • Do you have a financial power of attorney set up?
  • Do you have a living will and medical power of attorney?
  • Do you have a current signed organ donor card?
  • Have you given copies of these documents to your executor and attorney?
  • Have you clearly outlined how you want your possessions distributed?
  • Have you labeled any items you want to go to specific people?


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