25 Estate Documents You Need Before You Leave This Earth


Live well, leave well. Plan your estate for your loved ones — and plan your legacy for yourself.

The Essentials
The last will and testament is the document that outlines an estate owner’s directives for administration and distribution of assets to heirs and designated beneficiaries at the end of life.

A letter of instruction (“LOI”) accompanies an estate’s trust or will documentation, providing additional information about end-of-life financial plans and the value and disposition of assets.

The formation of a trust is accompanied by directives guiding designated trustee administration of living trust transfers, investments, tax filing, and final distribution or liquidation of assets and real property.

The designation of financial power of attorney (“POA”) as part of an account agreement, estate, trust, or will, provides agent proxy for financial decision-making on behalf the account holder.

Marriage and Divorce

The official documentation of a marital union, the marriage license evidences the full legal entitlement of a surviving spouse in matters or estate or trust transfers of assets and property.

Depending on the state jurisdiction where an estate is registered divorce papers, the court record of a terminated marital union, determines surviving spousal rights to estate or trust asset transfers.

A record of U.S. Department of Defense military personnel status entitles an estate owner, spouses, and children to specified benefits, as well as federal tax exemptions on gifts and transfers.

Healthcare Confidential

A record of personal and family medical history is confidential documentation that can be included within an estate owner’s living will directives for purposes of medical informed consent decision.

For a family member to make medical informed consent decisions on behalf of an incapacitated loved one, durable healthcare power of attorney is accorded by advance directive or a court.s.

The authorization to release health-care information is a medical informed consent agreement decision, that can be made directly by a patient, or on their behalf by an agent with healthcare proxy.

An element of medical informed consent agreement giving permission on behalf a patient, a do-not-resuscitate order is a living will directive that denies life-sustaining intervention in the case of incapacitation.

The document containing advance directives for emergency medical procedure and end-of-life care, the living Will is intended to fulfill a patient’s healthcare treatment preferences for medical informed consent agreement.

Proof of Ownership

Deeds are record of real property, land, and cemetery plot ownership, as well as right to estate transfer. Deed transfer is performed by filing with the county clerk’s office of record.

Escrow mortgage accounts are considered estate value if an outstanding balance is owed a trust, otherwise those monies are lender attached by way of institutional agreement.

Record of loan and debt transactions, permits an executor or trustee to determine the full account value and obligation for distribution of assets when an estate becomes effective.

The record of automobile or other vehicle title, is evidence of ownership for purposes of transfer at time of sale or auction by an estate, trust, or will.

Brokerage accounts, securitized contracts and savings bonds contracts comprising an estate or trust portfolio, provide a record of transactions, expiry dates, and conversion rights.

Estate transferred businesses, partnerships, and corporate operating agreements are records of ownership rights, shareholder rights, and financials reflecting activity and income.

Estate or trust entity income tax filer record of federal Internal revenue service (“IRS”) and state tax board reporting, is a key document for purposes of administration, audit, and probate.ity and income.

Life Insurance and Retirement

Life-insurance policies are safe-haven assets that can be held as part of an estate owner’s trust account for future distribution to beneficiaries after the insured is deceased.

Federal tax-exempt individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”) permit annual income transfer at a higher than savings rate for future designation as retirement fund, or future designated beneficiary trust fund.

Employer contribution 401(k) account documents are record of individual or joint tenant retirement accounts set up for purposes of maximizing tax-exempt savings, and future transfer to an estate trust.

The record of automobile or other vehicle title, is evidence of ownership for purposes of transfer at time of sale or auction by an estate, trust, or will.

Another form of retirement account, pension documents coinciding with contributed funds are required for transfer or disbursement at the time those agreements come into effect.

Life insurance attached annuity contracts are an estate trust investment vehicle that affords the benefit of tax-exempt income while still alive, and transfer to beneficiaries on death.

Bank Accounts. Social Media

A list of bank accounts is a key document for executor or trustee administration. Bank account information can include the account holder credentials and authorized fiduciary contact at each institution.

Corresponding to online digital accounts and profile assets, the list of all usernames and passwords is an advisable document to retain as part of an estate.

A list of safe-deposit boxes with bank or other institutional locations should also include the box holder’s name listed on the agreement, and authorized fiduciary contact.

Smart contracts or cryptocurrency information part of a trust fund portfolio of assets, are blockchain transaction agreements for convertible exchange of value or transfer when an estate becomes effective

Electronic Assets, Royalties

Estate owners can designate an authorized user to manage or close online accounts once they are deceased. Financial digital assets can be transferred with the assistance of a fiduciary.

Estate transfer of intellectual property assets affords an artist or inventor full benefit from the sale or use of their licensed work, as well as royalty income tax-exemption.