Estate Planning Guide

This Estate Planning Guide is provided as a public service.  The content and format were developed by several individuals suddenly tasked with functioning as estate executors.  Hindsight suggested the numerous challenges they faced would have been easier to resolve if better direction had been provided via more formal estate planning.  This form continues to evolve as suggestions are incorporated.  Please send ideas for additional improvements to

This form is designed for use on your computer.  Use your Tab key to move from field to field, type data directly into the form, and then print a hard copy version for your file.





ZIP/Postal Code

Work Phone

Home Phone

Today's Date

Social Security Number

Location of Birth Certificate


Do you have a signed, witnessed, and notarized Last Will & Testament?

When was your Last Will & Testament updated?

With which law firm and attorney did you work?

Does your Last Will & Testament meet your current wishes?  If not, update it!

Where is the original copy of your Last Will & Testament?

Who has copies of your Last Will & Testament?

Whom have you nominated as your Trustee and Personal Representative?

Whom have you nominated as alternate Trustee and alternate Personal Representatives?

Are these individuals all aware they are so designated?

"Tangible personal goods,” such as furniture, cars, artwork, boats, precious metals, jewelry, stamps, and clothing (not including mobile homes, real estate, money, bank accounts, or securities) can be transferred thru a listing which is separate from your Last Will & Testament.  Such a list needs to be signed and should be kept with your Last Will & Testament.  You may change the list at any time, so long as you date and sign each version.  The list is filed in court along with the Last Will and Testament after death.  If you have composed a list detailing the recommended disposition of selected items, where
is your list located?

If you have yet to compose such a list of tangible personal goods, be sure to fully and clearly describe all items, indicate their present location, and include the full names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all listed benefactors.  Consider asking relatives and friends if there are any items which they specifically would or would not want.

What should be done with items designated for individuals whose death precedes yours?

What should be done with items designated for individuals who might not want them?

What items have you designated for your Trustee and Personal Representative?

What items have you designated for your alternate Trustee and Personal Representative?

To whom do you not want specific items to go (list items and individuals)?


Have you named someone as attorney-in-fact to act on your behalf in the event you are incapacitated?

If so, whom did you name and where is the original paperwork located?


Do you have a home safe?

If so, where is your safe located?

Who has the keys/combination to your safe?


Do you have a safe deposit box/boxes?

If so, specify location(s), number(s), other owner(s), and the location of key(s):


Washington State law allows you to make a written directive instructing your physician to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining systems.  Such a “Living Will” must be signed in the presence of two disinterested witnesses and is made a part of your medical record.

Do you have a Living Will?

If so, where is the original, signed copy located, and whom else has copies?


Where are your other important papers stored?

Where are copies of your federal tax returns for prior years stored?

Where are your credit card records stored?

List all banks where you have checking accounts, including your account #s:

What is your preference for the distribution of funds from each checking account?

List all banks where you have savings accounts, including your account #s:

What is your preference for the distribution of funds from each savings account?

List any loans/monies you owe, e.g. home mortgage, vehicle loans, personal loans:

List any loans or other monies owed to you and indicate whether each loan should be collected or forgiven upon your death:

List any life, health, mortgage, or credit insurance policies which provide death benefits (company, policy number, location of the actual policy):


Real Estate:

Stocks, bonds, notes payable, other securities:

Motor vehicles:


Furniture and Furnishings (specific items of particular value):

Jewelry (specific items of particular value):

Business interests, e.g. sole proprietorships, partnerships:

Employee benefits, e.g. pensions, profit-sharing plans:

Animals (who should care for them?):

Miscellaneous property (specify distribution to family members, friends, charities, other):

Indicate your preferences if the inheritance of personal and family belongings should change if your spouse were to re-marry:

Are all of your keys labeled indicating the locks to which they fit?  Discard obsolete keys!

Are your photographs labeled so future generations will be able to identify and appreciate them?


Directions for the health care of your surviving spouse:

If you and/or your family were unable to care for you, would you consider a retirement residence, assisted living facility, or nursing home?

If so, what is your preference (list names and addresses):


Do you prefer cremation or burial?

If cremation, to whom should your ashes be given?

What would you prefer be done with your ashes?

If you prefer burial, which funeral home and funeral director have you selected?

If any of your funeral arrangements have been prepaid, where is the documentation?

If you have funeral insurance, or are a member of a civic or employment organization which provides death-related benefits, list all details:

If you own a burial plot or crypt, where is it located?

Where are the deeds to the plot or crypt?

If you prefer burial, do you want embalming done?  (Note: Washington State law does not always require embalming, but public or private viewing may require embalming.)

Do you want a funeral service to be conducted with a casket present, and/or a memorial service after burial?

Do you want the casket open or closed at the funeral service?

Where do you want the services to be held, e.g. funeral home, church, home, other?

Who is to officiate - pastor, friend, family member, other?

What religious or philosophical convictions do you want the services to express?

What readings, if any, e.g. poetry, scripture, titles?

What kind of music, if any -- recorded or performed live, by whom, titles?

If you want to leave a letter to be read at the service, where is it located and whom is to read it?

Do you want informal sharing/remembrances done by any of those present at the service?

Do you want the burial committal to involve friends and family, or simply be done by the funeral director?

Do you want a meal or social gathering shared by those attending the service?

If so, what would like the "tone" of this gathering to be?

Do you want people to send flowers?

Do you wish contributions made in your honor to specific charities?

If so, which charities?

What do you not want to be a part of the service?

If you are a military veteran, do you want a United States flag to drape the coffin, or a folded flag on display?

If so, the funeral director will need a copy of your military discharge papers. Where are these papers located?

To whom should the flag be presented following the service?

What clothing do you prefer be used?

Should there be a guest book at the funeral service?

Should memorial booklets be prepared for the funeral service?

If so, what information should they include?

What type of grave marker do you prefer?

What material should the marker's base be made from, e.g. concrete, stone (type), other?

What information would you like the marker to include, e.g. name; date of birth and death; religious, Masonic, military affiliations; other message?

What type and model of burial vault/container do you prefer?

How many certified copies of the Death Certificate should be prepared?  These are needed for Social Security, converting bank accounts to estate accounts, filing the Last Will & Testament with the state, et al.

Do you want an obituary published in the newspaper(s)?

If so, in which newspaper(s) in which town(s) should the obituary appear?

What should the obituary mention, e.g. achievements, activities, affiliations, etc.?

What shouldn't the obituary mention?

Obituaries typically list close family members by name and city.  List the names and cities of your spouse, living children, and siblings: