Documents You Need For A Complete Estate Plan

October 17, 2022

At Schlegel Livingston, we take pride in sitting down with our clients and making sure their estate plan is fulfilling the goals of the whole family. We take a holistic approach to estate planning and want to provide you with the information you need for a successful and thorough estate plan.

During our introductory meetings to discuss these plans, we often get asked what documents will be necessary. Ultimately, the answer depends on the estate and what assets are controlled by the estate. If you have a large estate then the documents may pile high but if you have a smaller estate then you may not need to worry about all the documents below. You just have to make sure you have the supporting legal documents for the assets you possess. Consider bringing the following documents with you when you meet with us to get ahead of the process.

Real estate deeds

One of the biggest items in any estate will be property. If you own real estate, including your own home, you’ll want to make sure it’s covered by your plan. To do so, your real estate deed will be necessary to prove ownership and to ensure the transfer of that property to the chosen beneficiary.

Vehicle titles

Much the same as real estate, you’ll want to bring proof of ownership for any vehicles you own to have them covered in your estate plan. If the vehicle is in both your name and your spouse’s name then the vehicle will be assumed left to the surviving spouse. If the vehicle title is just in one name then the courts will also generally assume a surviving spouse will take ownership unless otherwise specified in your estate.

Financial and investment statements

Your bank accounts will generally have “Payable on Death” clauses which mean you can designate a beneficiary directly through your bank. This step allows you to keep your accounts out of the estate and out of probate, but establishing ownership of these accounts can also allow your heirs to petition the court should there be issues later. In that case, your heirs can keep your accounts out of probate even if the POD clause or other issue needs to be resolved. If you’re transferring stocks or other investments (like Crypto) into your estate then you’ll need to provide those certificates, as well.

Marital or divorce records

If you’re currently married and have a pre or post-nuptial agreement then bring these with you. This allows your attorney to ensure your estate complies with the previous documents. The same applies to any divorce orders that may prevent you from owning or transferring certain assets.

Business contracts

If you own or hold an ownership stake in a business this will be a focal point of your estate plan. The same applies to any filings you own on behalf of a business such as intellectual property filings, business asset ownership agreements, and any operating agreements you’ve signed that could limit your authority over the business.

Previous estate planning documents

If you already have an estate plan then we’ll need to take a look at it and make sure there aren’t multiple versions of your estate floating around. We can use that plan as a starting point or scrap it all to start anew.

Our goal is to make sure you have all the resources necessary to get your plan done right and help you through life’s most important moments. Contact the team at Schlegel Livingston today.