What information do you need to prepare estate planning documents?
You'll need your full name(s). (This should be the legal name you use on important papers.)
You'll also need the names and birth dates of all your children, with any information dealing with whether some are stepchildren, etc.
Determination as to whom you wish to serve as executor or successor trustee (the person who takes over and handles the affairs after you are gone). This is usually one of your adult children, generally whichever is most responsible, or another relative, friend or institution may be designated. Generally it is best to have two or three names in case the first cannot serve.
Determination as to what disposition you wish to have made of your things after you are gone. Include any specific gifts to specific individuals if you desire to make any. These might include certain heirlooms that should go to one particular child, gifts to charity, or provisions to care for a child or grandchild with special needs.
Determination as to who you want to have make any health care decisions if you cannot do so. Also, any particular wishes you may have regarding what those decisions should be. These might relate to artificial prolongation of life, organ donations, blood transfusions, etc.
Determination as to who you want to have your financial power of attorney. This person will be the one who will sign your checks, pay your bills, sign your tax returns, etc., if you are unable to do so. Generally, with married couples, each spouse appoints the other, and then the alternate choice is frequently the same person as the successor trustee/executor. This is not a concrete rule, however, and it may be whoever you would trust with explicit confidence to handle your affairs if you are incapacitated.
If you have minor children, determination as to who you would want to have care for them if you were to pass away while they are still minors.
Determination as to what you would want to have done if one of your children or other heirs should die before you do. That person's share could pass to the other beneficiaries, or could pass down to their spouse, or to their children (if any) at a specified age. Think about what you would prefer and what age you might prefer, and we will discuss this further when we meet.
Legal descriptions of all real property held, and the current state of the title. This can best be gotten by just providing me with a copy of the most recent deed on each piece of property. I will also need the parcel number of the property. If the deed is more than a few years old, it won't be on it, but it will be on the property tax bill. I will need a copy of the actual Grant Deed or Deed of Trust (not the Reconveyance). One with the legal description on it, such as Lot, Parcel, tract, etc.
Descriptions and account numbers of all deposit accounts in financial institutions, brokerage firms, mutual funds, pooled accounts, securities funds, etc., with the names and addresses of the institutions. (Amount doesn't matter.)
Numbers and descriptions of any large bonds. If there are numerous small bonds, simply the number (how many) and description will suffice.
Any stocks or securities held in your own name rather than through a brokerage.
Any mortgages or deeds of trust you hold on properties owned by others.
Any notes or other debts owed to you by others.
Any retirement plans which provide for any benefit after or upon death.