One of the greatest gifts you can leave your loved ones is an organized estate. The time you spend now is not only an investment for your survivors but will also ensure your wishes will be carried out. It’s a good idea to discuss your plans with your loved ones, the executor of your will and with your legal, financial and tax advisors.
“Those who are faithful stewards of the Lord’s means will know just how their business stands, and, like wise men, they will be prepared for any emergency. Should their probation close suddenly, they would not leave such great perplexity upon those who are called to settle their estate.” E. G. White, Counsels on Stewardship
Union is here to help
If you'd like to talk to someone about planning your estate, contact Scot Coppock, leadership giving director.
You can also download a .pdf version of this checklist here.
Do you have an up-to-date will or trust?
Without a will or trust state laws and courts will decide what happens to your assets and who will be the guardian of your minor children when you die.
Have you made a living will?
This document outlines the medical procedures you want or do not want taken if you become too ill to speak for yourself.
Have you created a durable power of attorney?
This document allows you to appoint someone who can make decisions regarding your personal, legal and financial affairs if you become incapacitated.
Is it necessary to establish a trust?
Not everyone needs a trust. It is always a good idea to talk to your attorney to determine if it makes sense for you.
Have you included God in your Estate planning?
Everything we have in life comes from God, you can return some of what He has blessed you with by gifting a portion of your estate to a church, a school, a hospital or any number of other charitable organizations.
Do all of your investment accounts have a beneficiary?
By listing a beneficiary you can pass on your bank accounts, CDs, IRAs, retirement plans, and other financial instruments without going through the probate courts.
Have you reviewed your life insurance policies recently?
It is important to review your ownership, coverage amount and beneficiaries every two or three years to make sure your policies still reflect your needs and wishes.
Have you reviewed your pension plan’s survivor benefits?
Pension benefits usually can be passed on to your spouse but typically at a reduced amount; therefore, it is a good idea to make sure your surviving spouse’s income will be enough to live on.
Organizing Financial Records
Do you have a list of your financial accounts?
Make a list of all your investments, bank accounts, insurance policies (life, disability, homeowners, credit, etc.) and other financial matters.
Do you have a list of your personal data and location of valuable documents?
Include Social Security numbers, dates of birth, names and phone numbers of family members as well as the location of deeds, car titles, tax records, military records, birth and marriage certificates, and divorce decrees.
Have you made arrangements for access to your safe-deposit box?
In many states, safe-deposit boxes are closed upon death and are not opened until probate. For this reason it is very important to keep your will outside of your safe-deposit box.
Have you listed your loan payments?
This listing should include information about credit cards, mortgages, consumer loans, auto loans and personal loans.
Do you have a list of other income sources and government benefits?
This includes pensions, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, and veterans benefits.
Have you created a letter of instruction?
This can spell out funeral wishes, people to contact, and where your will and other key papers can be found. It can also provide information about your financial accounts and activities.
Have you provided easy access to your will and your durable powers of attorney?
Keep signed original copies in your attorney’s office, in a fireproof file at home, and give a signed copy to your executor.
Have you told a trusted family member or friend where everything is?
Tell this person the location of your financial records, your confidential or valuable items, your spare keys, and security codes.