Nolan Stewart, PC; the Presbyterian Foundation; and the Law Offices of Bernt A. Jacobsen have free printable estate planning worksheets available on their websites. All three websites recommend filling out the forms, and then meeting with an attorney to draft legal documents in accordance with client's wishes.
Estate planning should include a will to avoid letting the state take or divide property according to state laws, notes Kiplinger. To avoid fighting over individual pieces of personal property, a client can state in his will that he has a signed list of bequests. The estate owner can update the list as regularly as he wants, but he should date and sign each list.
When meeting with an estate lawyer, clients may also want to have an advance medical directive and durable power of attorney for financial and legal affairs in case they become incapacitated, according to Kiplinger. Also, to avoid probate court, some clients may want to consider living trusts. Living trusts are also more difficult to contest than wills, but they require retitling of all assets in the estate, which leads to higher legal fees.
Other estate planning concerns include purchasing a life insurance policy if necessary and signing a release-of-information form to ensure loved ones can receive medical information, explains Kiplinger. An individual may also want to prepay for his cremation or burial and make other preparations for his memorial service.