Estate Planning Lists and Documents

Photo by Hadija Saidi on Unsplash

People don’t like to talk about death. It’s a sad topic and raises a lot of uncomfortable questions. We rarely, if ever, prioritize such topics.

Schools don’t teach it.
Parents don’t talk about it.
Life gets busy.
It’s work that falls through the cracks.

As a young adult, this was a flicking afterthought. With a growing family, increased dependencies, and an ever-complicating life, the lack of organization can become a major stressor.

The topic of “estate planning” sounds intimidating.

It’s not a surprise most adults are underprepared. After spending hours researching the estate planning process and working through my end of life plans, there is one reason it’s easily ignored: complexity.

There are important, legal needs within the process but most of the effort is quite simple. Nearly every household would benefit from merely gathering the following information and making a handful of key decisions.

Do not confuse this summary with legal advice. This is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer. Preparing the following information, however, it a start. Once you engage a lawyer, and you should, it should save some work while their billable hours are ticking away.

Everyone’s situation is unique. This is not a comprehensive list of every variation. The lists below represent a majority of the information needed for the average individual. It’s a baseline to get started.

These are the primary categories of lists and documents within the estate planning process. While I suggest you do more, the simple act of getting these items together is a good start:

  • Personal Property
  • Proof of Identity Documents
  • Titles and Property Deeds
  • Debts
  • Digital Logins and Passwords
  • Professional Service Providers
  • Insurance Policies
  • Financial Information

Personal Property

  • Houses
  • Cars
  • Recreational Vehicles (Boats, Motorcycles, etc)
  • Jewelry (Gold, Diamonds, Watches, etc)
  • Major Electronics (Computers, Phones, etc)
  • Art (Paintings, Statues, NFTs, etc)
  • Firearms
  • Stocks / Bonds
  • Family Heirlooms (Silver, Crystal, Fine China, etc)
  • Storage Units / Safety Deposit Boxes
  • Furniture
  • Appliances

Financial Information and Debts

Create a List of Financial Accounts and Institutions.

  • Banks
  • Credit Cards
  • Mortgages
  • Retirement Accounts
  • School Loans
  • Automotive Loans
  • Small Business Loans
  • Credit Card(s)
  • Mortgage
  • Medical Bills

Digital Logins and Passwords

I recommend storing the login information in a tool like 1Password or Lastpass. It is helpful to list the primary accounts with a direct link to where the credentials live within the password manager.

  • Bank & Financial Accounts
  • Social Media & Email Accounts
  • Logins for Streaming Services
  • Digital files, photos, documents, etc

Professional Service Providers

  • Bookkeeper / Accountant
  • CPA
  • Lawyer
  • Insurance Agent
  • Bankers
  • Financial Advisor
  • Real Estate Agent

Insurance Policies

  • Life Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Renters Insurance
  • Home Insurance

Proof of Identity Documents

  • Birth Certificates
  • Social Security Cards
  • Passports
  • Marriage and Divorce Certificates
  • Prenuptial Agreements

Titles and Property Deeds

  • Home
  • Vehicles
  • Property

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CTO at Fast Company’s World Most Innovative Company (x4). Author of “Code School”, a book to help more people transition into tech.

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Morgan J. Lopes

Morgan J. Lopes

CTO at Fast Company’s World Most Innovative Company (x4). Author of “Code School”, a book to help more people transition into tech.

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