Estate: Prepare an estate plan

Directives for your care and the distribution of your assets are vital to passing your property to your family when you are gone. Establish, at a minimum, the basic four estate planning documents.

Prepare an Estate Plan

Watch our workshop on Creating an Estate Plan

Getting started

We recommend you use an estate-planning attorney as the most reliable method, but for a do-it-yourself approach you can try online resources such as your state aging services website,, or *

Generally speaking the following is a list of things to do as part of an estate plan. Please note, this content is not exhaustive nor is it intended to address advanced estate planning needs. For more information, consult with an estate-planning attorney.

  • To begin, update all beneficiary designations for:
    • 401(k) and retirement plans
    • IRAs
    • Life and AD&D policies
  • Next, obtain the four basic estate-planning documents:
    • Last will and testament: A will allows you to name an executor to supervise how and to whom you want your assets distributed upon your death and to nominate a guardian for minor children. A will is critical. Everyone should have one.
    • Living will AND durable healthcare power of attorney: A living will and healthcare power of attorney (also known as advance directives) allows you to declare your healthcare wishes (such as artificial life support, etc.) and appoint someone legally authorized to represent those wishes if you are unable to do so.
    • Durable general power of attorney: A general power of attorney allows you to nominate a representative who can legally act on your behalf and access personal information such as financial accounts and benefits, etc.

In some cases, having a trust may also be desirable or necessary. Gather together the necessary documents and to create your estate plan and consult with an estate-planning attorney to discuss your specific needs.

* DMBA does not endorse or accept liability for any self-help estate planning resources.

After starting your estate plan, find your Core Financial Principles Task Checklist and check off “Create an estate plan.”