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Estate planning checklist

Preparing to meet with an estate planning attorney for the first time is an opportunity to get organized and think about your wishes for the future. If you meet with your accountant every year to prepare tax returns, this may be a familiar process explains the article,“Preparing for an Estate Planning Consultation: 10 Items to Consider Before Meeting Your Attorney,” from The National Law Journal.   At Legacy Planning Law Group, we provide an Estate Planning Checklist to our new and returning Jacksonville clients to share initial information from personal and family details and consider important questions relating to key estate planning topics. The answers our clients provide ensure that we develop a plan that meets their unique goals. This article outlines an Estate Planning Checklist that anyone who needs a new estate plan or a review of an existing plan can use to uncover items to discuss with your estate planning attorney.

Jacksonville Estate Planning Attorney Bill O’Leary provides a succinct definition of what an Estate Planning Checklist entails.

Creating a comprehensive estate plan is crucial for ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are taken care of. An estate planning checklist helps you organize all the necessary elements to build a solid plan. Here are the items on our Estate Planning Checklist that will help you be most productive when meeting with your attorney and considering the options available for protecting you, your loved ones, and your assets.

1. Gather an Asset List

The first step in your estate planning process is to compile a comprehensive list of your assets. This includes:

  • Real Estate: Any properties you own, including your primary residence, vacation homes, and rental properties.
  • Financial Accounts: Bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, and any other financial holdings.
  • Vehicles: Cars, boats, motorcycles, and any other vehicles you own.

Creating an asset list helps our Jacksonville clients see the full scope of what they have, perhaps uncovering items they didn’t know they had, and makes it easier to decide how to distribute their assets.

2. Identify Your Beneficiaries

Next, think about who you want to receive your assets. Beneficiaries can be divided into two categories:

  • Specific Recipients: These are individuals or entities you want to receive particular assets, like a specific amount of money or a particular piece of property.
  • Remainder Beneficiaries: These are individuals or entities who will receive the remainder of your estate after all specific gifts have been distributed.

Read more about beneficiaries in our article, How Can Beneficiary Designations Wreck My Estate Plan?

3. Create a Last Will and Testament

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that outlines who gets your assets, what they get, when they get it, and how they get it. This is a foundational element of any estate plan.

4. Consider a Living Trust

In addition to a will, setting up a Living Trust can be beneficial. A living trust allows your assets to be transferred to your beneficiaries without going through probate, making the process smoother and faster. This can also provide privacy since trusts are not public records.

5. Establish a Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney (POA) is essential in case you become incapacitated and need someone to manage your affairs:

  • Financial Power of Attorney: Appoint someone to handle your financial matters if you are unable to do so.
  • Health Care Power of Attorney: Appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. In Florida, this is also referred to as a Health Care Surrogate.

6. HIPAA Authorization

A HIPAA Authorization allows designated individuals to access your medical records and communicate with healthcare providers about your condition. This is crucial for your appointed health care surrogate to make informed decisions.

7. Draft a Living Will

A Living Will outlines your wishes regarding medical treatment if you are near death or unconscious and cannot communicate your decisions. This document provides guidance to your healthcare surrogate and loved ones about your end-of-life care preferences.

8. Create a Personal Property Memorandum

A Personal Property Memorandum specifies how you want to distribute tangible personal property, such as jewelry, furniture, and family heirlooms. This document is typically referenced in your will and can be updated without having to revise the entire will.

9. Prepare Memorial Instructions

Document your wishes regarding your funeral or memorial service. This can include:

  • Notification of family and friends
  • Preferences for burial or cremation
  • Details about the funeral or remembrance celebration
  • Instructions for your remains, such as a headstone or memorial plaque

10. Hold a Family Meeting

Consider holding a family meeting to discuss your estate plan. This can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is aware of your wishes. Read more about how to conduct family meetings in our articles, Share Your Estate Plan Now to Protect Your Family When You Are Gone and Steps for Successful Family Meetings about Wealth Management


By starting with our Estate Planning Checklist to review goals, assets, and tools to protect them, our Jacksonville clients ensure that they are well prepared to create or update their estate plan. By following these steps, you can create a plan that provides peace of mind and clarity for you and your loved ones. Schedule a free discovery call with Team Legacy to get started on creating a new estate plan or reviewing an existing one.

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