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Estate Planning - What Information Do I Need to Gather First?


Beginning to think about planning your estate can be one of the most difficult aspects of your life. For some, the biggest issue with estate planning is deciding who will get what, what timeline will be followed for the distribution, and who will distribute those items to those people. Sometimes, just the mere instant second thoughts of doing this turns a person off from completing this process for years and sometimes decades at a time. Once started and completed, the relief you will feel from working through your estate plan is unspeakable.

In beginning this process, if you are able to gather some specific items about yourself, your family, your assets, and your liabilities, the work can be completed rather quickly. Often times the entire estate planning process can be completed within a two to three week period.

Prior to gathering the above information, you need to understand what the purpose is for this information. Estate planning purposes include (among others):

  • Determining to whom your assets will go;
  • Planning so the least amount of estate taxes will be paid upon your death;
  • Working through the titling of your assets to avoid the probate (public) re-titling process upon your death); and
  • Figuring out how your debts will be paid upon your death.

In order to accomplish these goals, you will need to gather the following information:

  1. A listing of all of your assets and liabilities (with the titling of each asset);
  2. A copy of the deeds to any real estate you own;
  3. Any business entity agreements which you are a member;
  4. A copy of any current estate planning documents you have in place; and
  5. A listing of your family information (spouse, children, etc.).

In just gathering the above information, you will have a clearer picture of the things you need to consider. Gathering this information alone will cause a great weight to be lifted. For further help in drafting a will and doing your estate planning, contact Kim Cutler at the law offices of Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC.