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10 Must Have Documents for your Estate Planning Binder

All of us should have an estate plan, it's one of the most important documents, but sometimes we have a mental block and an aversion to setting one up. If you already have an estate plan, you know how important it is to keep your estate planning documents together and in one place, and you also know that you have to let your loved ones know where they are located. What should be in your binder? See my list below of my top 10 must haves for any estate plan.

  1. Revocable Living Trust: A legal document which establishes your Trust, states who the Trustees are, and who is nominated in the event of your incapacity, who your beneficiaries are and any special gifts you request to be made. (It will have much more information, but this gives you an idea)

  2. Will: For those with minor children, this document will nominate guardians for your little ones. It will also capture any assets that you have not yet transferred into your Trust.

  3. Durable Power of Attorney: Document in which you elect an agent, with backups, to manage your financial affairs if you are incapacitated.

  4. Advance Healthcare Directive: Document in which you elect an agent, with backups, to manage your healthcare if you are incapacitated. It also states your wishes for care in the event you will not recover, or treatment wishes if you have a terminal illness that arises during your incapacity.

  5. Final Disposition Instructions: Document that specifies what your wishes are in regard to burial or cremation. It can also state if you have made any preparations in advance, or your wishes in regard to your funeral services.

  6. Schedule of Assets: A listing of all of your assets that are in your Trust. This should be updated continously as you acquire new assets.

  7. List of Accounts for all Assets and Debts: A listing of all outstanding loans, bills, and other financial obligations. This is important so that your loved ones know how to manage your financial affairs properly.

  8. Login Information for Online Accounts: If one spouse passes before the other, or your family is in charge of your affairs, they need to know where to look in order to take care of your finances. It is one thing that you can provide that will help them take over and lessen their stress.

  9. Grant Deeds & Titles for Assets: Titles and deeds should be kept in a safe place, and your estate planning binder is a great place to keep it all. It will be safe, and if something should happen to you, it will all be in one place.

  10. Letter to Loved Ones: This can be a great gift for your loved ones. And while not necessary, it can help bring peace to those who are grieving your loss. It can further demonstrate wishes and you get to express some last words that will mean a lot to your family/friends.

If you don't yet have an estate plan and would like to set one up, please contact my office at (925) 336-5711 for a complimentary consultation.

*I am not an attorney and I cannot offer legal advice. I am a legal document assistant and can provide self-help services at your specific direction.

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