“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Benjamin Franklin

Picture this. You take the time to carefully plan your estate. You invest your money and time to utilize the tools you believe will work best. You put in the work, creating a plan you are confident will protect and provide for your loved ones. 

The time comes, and you pass away. But afterward, though you have a great plan in place, no one knows where it is. You may have beneficiaries attached to your different financial accounts, but what if no one knows which banks those accounts are in?

You may have a network of professionals helping you, but have you told your beneficiaries who your accountant, financial advisor, and attorney are?

You may have a list of important details saved on your computer, but does anyone else know your login information? 

You may have a very responsible plan, but there are dozens of small details that need to be in place so that your plan will be functional and effective for the people who are expected to implement it. This is why creating an Estate Guide and Inventory is vitally important. 

Even if someone could figure out the details of your life without a set of instructions, don’t put them through the extra confusion of it all. 

Even if you have communicated details verbally to your Executor, be reasonable. Take into account the fact that they have their own lives and their own details to keep track of; don’t expect them to remember yours. 

Even if your plan seems straightforward and simple to you, don’t assume it will be easy for others to understand your vision. 

Creating Your Estate Guide and Inventory

An Estate Guide and Inventory isn’t hard to create, but it will make a world of difference when someone needs it. It’s essentially a reference sheet of information that your Executor or other family members will need after your death to wrap up the details of your life. Here are three steps to creating it:

  • Make a list of the different aspects of your life. For example:
    • What does your financial life look like? Are you an investor? Do you own multiple accounts or safety deposit boxes? What insurance policies do you hold? Do you receive electronic or paper statements each month for your separate accounts?
    • What about important physical assets are you the owner of?
    • Who are you in the community? Business owner, volunteer, involved with the local school board or a non-profit? Member of a gym or any type of community club/society?
    • Are you a pet owner?
    • Are there other events or activities you are regularly committed to? 
  • Ask yourself, what would someone need to know in order to tie up the loose ends of these aspects of my life? For example:
    • Will people need login information for your computer and different online financial accounts?
    • Will they need your birth certificate or marriage license for any reason?
    • Will they be able to locate official paperwork pertaining to your assets, such as car titles, and house and land deeds?
    • Will they need the phone numbers for the professionals in your life, such as your attorney, accountant, or financial advisor?
    • Will they need instructions on how to care for your pet or phone numbers to cancel your various memberships?
  • Make a physical reference sheet that includes the necessary instructions or key information pertaining to each of those categories in an easy-to-understand way
  • Put your Estate Guide and Inventory in an accessible place and be sure at least one other person knows where it is and how to get to it. 


Create your own, or download our fillable Estate Guide and Inventory Form