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Estate Planning Checklist

This initial estate planning questionnaire is presented in a narrative form. The detailed explanations and the space provided for answers are designed to garner more complete and helpful information than would be afforded by merely filling in blanks.

ESTATE PLANNING REVIEW

FOR

__________________________

The purpose of this questionnaire
Your lawyer will use the information you provide in this
questionnaire:
1. To help you organize personal and financial
information so that you can assess your current
estate plans and evaluate whether changes are desired
or required.
2. To provide your estate planning attorney with the
information needed to make a similar analysis.
3. To help you evaluate your lawyer’s estate planning
recommendations. The estate plan is your plan, not
your lawyer’s, and you must be satisfied that it is
workable.

The information you provide must be as accurate as
possible. If you are uncertain about exact information,
tell your lawyer that and give your best assessment. If
your lawyer believes that exact information is required,
he or she will ask you to be more precise. You may provide
as much or as little information as you want. We recognize
that this questionnaire is a fairly intrusive document.
Keep in mind, however, that the more complete the
information is, the better it will equip you and your
lawyer throughout the planning process to come up with the
best possible estate planning alternatives. Your
information will be kept confidential by your lawyer
unless you authorize or request its release to others.
PERSONAL AND FAMILY INFORMATION
State the names requested below exactly as you want them to
appear in your will and other estate planning documents.
Where the space on the form is insufficient, please use the
reverse side.
Your name: _____________________ Date of birth: ___________
Spouse’s name: _________________ Date of birth: ___________
Home Address:______________________________________________
Telephone No.: ______________________
Are you a United States citizen? _______________
If not, of what country are you a citizen? ________________
Is your spouse a citizen of the United States?_____________

If not, of what country is he/she a citizen? ______________
Your children, their spouses, and their children
Indicate which, if any, of your children is your child but
not your spouse’s, or vice versa. Also show the date and
place of adoption of any adopted child. Be sure to include
any deceased child and indicate the date of the child’s
death and his or her surviving spouse and children.
1.(a) Child:___________________ Date of birth: ____________
(b) Personal data (specify is the child from prior
marriage, adopted, deceased, etc.)
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
(c) Child’s spouse:___________________ (d) Child’s children
(and their dates of birth):
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
2.(a) Child:___________________ Date of birth: ____________
(b) Personal data (specify is the child from prior
marriage, adopted, deceased, etc.)
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
(c) Child’s spouse:___________________ (d) Child’s children
(and their dates of birth):
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
3.(a) Child:___________________ Date of birth: ____________
(b) Personal data (specify is the child from prior
marriage, adopted, deceased, etc.)
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
(c) Child’s spouse:___________________ (d) Child’s children
(and their dates of birth):
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
4. If either you or your spouse has been married
previously, state the name of each prior spouse and
indicate whether he or she is now living (if living give
his or her address).:______________________________________
___________________________________________________________
If either you or your spouse has been divorced, attach a
copy of the divorce decree.
5. Is there other important personal information that might
affect your estate plans? For example, does a member of
your family have a serious long-term medical or physical
problem that will require special care or attention in the
future?
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
PERSONAL AND FAMILY FINANCIAL ASSETS
The following questions do not require detailed responses.
For example, shares in publicly traded companies might be
shown simply as “common stocks.” On the other hand, for
property interests that are more or less unique, such as
interests in real estate, greater detail will be helpful.
With regard to real estate, it is important for your lawyer
to know the location (city and state) of the real estate,
how title is held, and the character of the property, e.g.,
residence, shopping center, apartment house, or similar
description.
The following abbreviations may be used to describe certain
attributes of particular assets:
JT = Joint tenancy with right of survivorship
TE = Tenancy by the entirety
TC = Tenancy in common
H = Husband’s name alone
W = Wife’s name alone
LT = Land trust
FMV = Fair market value (or your best estimate)
CV = Cash value of life insurance policy
PV = Proceeds of life insurance policy
1. Personal residence:
Address: ______________________________________________
Description (e.g., single family, condo, or co-op,
similar description): _________________________________
How you hold title:

FMV:__ Mortgage balance, if any:______________ Mortgage

life insurance?__________________

2. Other personal residences or vacation homes:
Address: ______________________________________________
Description (e.g., single family, condo, or co-op,
similar description): _________________________________
How you hold title:

FMV:__ Mortgage balance, if any:______________ Mortgage

life insurance?__________________

3. Personal and household effects: If you think that the
general categories do not provide an adequate description,
please provide additional detail. Also state your best
estimate of the value of each kind of property and who owns
it (how you hold title).
Automobiles:_______________________________________________
General personal and household effects such as furniture,
furnishings, books, and pictures of no special value: _____
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
Valuable jewelry (indicate if insured): ___________________
___________________________________________________________
Valuable works of art (indicate if insured): ______________
___________________________________________________________
Valuable antiques (indicate if insured): __________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
Other valuable collections, e.g., coins, stamps, or gold
(indicate if insured):_____________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
Other tangible personal property that does not seem to be
covered by any of the other categories: ___________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
4. Cash, cash deposits, and cash equivalents: State the
name and address of each bank or institution and who owns
each item.
(a) Checking accounts, including money market
accounts:
You:______________________________________________________
Spouse:___________________________________________________
Jointly with:_____________________________________________
(b) Ordinary savings accounts:
You:______________________________________________________
Spouse:___________________________________________________
Jointly with:_____________________________________________
(c) Certificates of deposit:
You:______________________________________________________
Spouse:___________________________________________________
Jointly with:_____________________________________________
(d) Short-term U.S. obligations (T-bills):
You:______________________________________________________
Spouse:___________________________________________________
Jointly with:_____________________________________________
5. Pension & profit-sharing plans, IRAs, ESOPs or other
tax-favored employee-benefit plans.
(a) Pension plans.

You:___________________ Vested:____ Current value: _______
Spouse:________________ Vested:____ Current value: _______
(b) Profit-sharing plans.
You:___________________ Vested:____ Current value: _______
Spouse:________________ Vested:____ Current value: _______
(c) Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

You:_________________________ Current value ______________
Spouse:______________________ Current value ______________
(d) Other tax-qualified employee benefit plan
interests. Please provide similar information. ___________
__________________________________________________________
6. Life Insurance on your life.
(a) Ordinary life insurance. List company, name,
address, and policy number.

__________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________
Face amount of policies (proceeds):_______________________
If you do not own it, who does? __________________________
Beneficiaries: ___________________________________________
Cash value:_______ Loans, if any, against it: ____________
Amount of accidental death benefits, if any:______________

(b) Term/group term insurance. List company, name,
address, and policy number.
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
Face amount of policies (proceeds):_______________________
Owner other than you:_____________________________________
Beneficiaries:____________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
Accidental death benefits:________________________________
__________________________________________________________
(c) Please supply similar information with respect
to other life insurance or other insurance having life
insurance features:_______________________________________
__________________________________________________________
7. (a) Life insurance on your spouse’s life. List
company, name, address, and policy number.________________
__________________________________________________________
Face amount of ordinary life insurance:___________________
Owner other than spouse:__________________________________
__________________________________________________________
Beneficiaries:____________________________________________
Cash value:_______ Loans, if any:____________
Accidental death benefits:___________________
(b)Term/Group life insurance. List company, name,
address, policy number.___________________________________
__________________________________________________________
Face amount of term/group term insurance:________
Owner other than spouse:__________________________________
Beneficiaries:____________________________________________
Cash value:_______ Loans, if any:____________
Accidental death benefits:________________________________
(c) Other insurance on spouse’s life:______________

__________________________________________________________
8. Closely held business interests. Describe any interest
you have in a family or other business with limited
shareholders. Include the nature of the business, its form
of organization (e.g., corporation, partnership, or the
like), whether you are active in its operations, and your
estimate of its value. If it is a corporation, please
indicate whether an “S election” is in force with respect
to the federal taxation of the corporation._______________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
With respect to any such business, do you believe it would
continue to operate successfully in the event of your
permanent absence from it or the permanent absence of some
other key person? ________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
9. Investment assets. With respect to each category, please
state the owner (how title is held) and the approximate
value.
(a) Publicly traded stocks and corporate bonds.
You:______________________________________________________
Spouse:___________________________________________________
Jointly owned with:_______________________________________
(b) Municipal bonds.
You:______________________________________________________
Spouse:___________________________________________________
Jointly owned with:_______________________________________
(c) Long-term U.S. Treasury Notes and Bonds.
You:______________________________________________________
Spouse:___________________________________________________
Jointly owned with:_______________________________________
(d) Limited partnership interests.
You:______________________________________________________
Spouse:___________________________________________________
Jointly owned with:_______________________________________
(e) Other investments. Please describe the general
nature and value of other investment interests:
You:______________________________________________________
Spouse:___________________________________________________
Jointly owned with:_______________________________________
Other interests of current or future value
1. Interests in trusts. Describe any trusts created by you,
by any other person, such as a parent or ancestor, in which
you or a member of your immediate family has a right to
receive distributions of income or principal, whether or
not such distributions are actually being received or
anticipated in the future. Be as specific as you can. If
possible, submit a copy of the trust agreement. If the
trust agreement is not available, show the date the trust
was created, whether it can be amended or changed, whet
her someone has a power of appointment over it, when the
trust terminates, and who will receive the trust property
upon termination. Also, state the approximate current
value of the trust and the annual income from it.
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
2. Anticipated inheritances. If you or any other members of
your immediate family are likely to receive substantial
inheritances in the foreseeable future from persons other
than yourself or your spouse, describe your best estimate
of the value and the nature of each inheritance.
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
3. Other assets or interests of value. Describe the general
nature, form of ownership, and your estimate of the value
of any asset or interest of value that does not seem to
fit in any of the categories above.
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
Liabilities
Describe here substantial financial liabilities not
reflected in the asset information you have provided above.
If they are secured, indicate the nature of the security.
Also show any substantial contingent liabilities, such as
personal guarantees you have made on obligations of a
business, a family member, or any other person. Indicate
whether you have insured against any of these obligations
in the event of your death, or if the obligations do not
survive your death.
PERSONAL ESTATE PLANNING OBJECTIVES
1. How would you dispose of your estate at your death if
there were no such thing as estate or inheritance taxes?
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
2. In the event of your death, would your spouse or
children be likely to receive income from sources other
than your estate, such as the continuance or resumption by
your spouse of his or her vocation or profession?
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
3. Describe any personal objectives you have for your
family and your estate that override possible adverse tax
consequences arising from trying to achieve them.
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
GUARDIANS, EXECUTORS, AND TRUSTEES

1. Guardians for minor children. If you have minor
children, you may designate in your will a guardian or
guardians of the person and their estate in the event of
your death and/or your spouse’s.
(a) Guardian of the person.

Name(s):__________________________________________________
Address:__________________________________________________

(b) Guardian of the estate, if different.
Name(s):__________________________________________________
Address:__________________________________________________
(c) Substitute guardian of the person.
Name(s):__________________________________________________
Address:__________________________________________________
(d) Substitute guardian of the estate.
Name(s):__________________________________________________
Address:__________________________________________________
2. Executor. Your executor has the responsibility to wind
up your affairs at your death, see to it that your assets
are collected, that claims, expenses, and estate and
inheritance taxes are paid, and then distribute your
property to trustees or others you have named. It is a
task of limited duration, substantial responsibility, and
much work.
(a) Principal executor.
Name(s):__________________________________________________
Address:__________________________________________________
(b) Substitute executor.
Name(s):__________________________________________________
Address:__________________________________________________
3. Trustees. Your trustees have the responsibility for the
long-range management of property that is to be held in
trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries of trusts you
may create.
Depending on the terms of the trust, there may be adverse
tax consequences if a trustee has an interest or possible
interest in the trust, although usually if the trustee’s
discretion is limited those adverse tax consequences are
similarly limited. A trustee can be a corporation
(qualified to act) or individual. You may choose to have
co-trustees, one of which may or may not be a corporation.
Because corporate trustees must charge fees for their
services, they may decline to accept small trusts. Their
fees to administer a small trust may turn out to be
disproportionately large if they are to cover their costs
in handling the trust. In general, choose a trustee with
the following qualities: integrity, mature judgment,
fiscal responsibility, and reasonable business and
investment acumen. If you wish to select co-trustees, you
may want to choose them for how well their individual
strengths compliment each other. Frequently, the same
person(s) or corporation selected as executor(s) may be
designated as trustee(s).
(a) Principal trustees.
Names:_____________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
Addresses:_________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
(b) Substitute trustees (to act if one or more of
the principal trustees cannot or will not act).
Names:_____________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
Addresses:_________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
OTHER MATTERS
1. Other factors. Describe or list here any facts or
matters that do not seem to be covered by the other
sections of this questionnaire and that you believe may be
important for your estate planning attorney to know.
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
2. Community property. If you now live in or have lived in
one of the states listed below, or if you own real estate
in one of these states, please circle the name of the
state and indicate whether you and your spouse have
entered into any agreement about whether that property is
separate property.
States: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana,
Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin___________
___________________________________________________________
3. Powers of attorney. Have you given a power of attorney
to your spouse, a child, or any other person authorizing
them to do either specific things on your behalf or to act
generally on your behalf? If so, please indicate to whom it
was given, the nature of the power (specific or general),
the date, and the location of the document granting the
power. ____________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
4. Living will. Have you signed any document indicating
your wishes concerning the “heroic” or extraordinary
measures to save your life in the event of a catastrophic
illness or injury? If not, would you like to do so? ______
5. Health care power. Have you signed any document
specifically authorizing another person such as your spouse
to make decisions with respect to your health care in the
event that you are unable to do so? If not, would you like
to do so? ___________
Date completed:____________
The American Bar Association Guide to Wills and EstatesCopyright © 2004 American Bar Association