Information List for Executors or Next of Kin

[View All]

Information List for Executors or Next of Kin
August 21, 2007
From the August 2007 Riker Danzig Tax and Trusts & Estates Update.
Area(s) of Practice:
Estate Planning & Administration

Most of us would like to make it as easy as possible for our families to carry on after our lives have ended or if we are disabled. To that end, our clients frequently ask us, “What information and documents should my family or trusted friends be able to locate after I’m gone?” Below is a list of our suggestions. Some of these items are obvious, but there are others you probably haven’t considered. If someone you trust has ready access to this information, it can save time, aggravation, and costs in the handling of your estate and financial affairs.

Therefore, we suggest that your executor and/or next of kin should be informed in advance about the location of the following documents, or be advised as to your wishes concerning the following:

  • Last Will (and signed and dated list of disposition of personal articles, if any)
  • Power of Attorney
  • Living Will/Health Care Proxy
  • Organ donation
  • Funeral arrangements/wishes
  • Memorial fund preferences
  • Pallbearer preferences
  • Birth certificates or immigration papers
  • Prior three years of income tax returns and related tax preparation materials
  • Bank and brokerage statements
  • Bank books
  • Original stocks and bonds
  • Records of loans made to or by you
  • Credit card statements
  • Attorney, accountant, financial planner, private banker, and stockbroker name, address and phone
  • Address book and list of other persons to be contacted in the event of death
  • IRA or pension statements
  • Summary plan description for pensions
  • Filed gift tax returns
  • Records of lawsuits filed by you or against you
  • Predeceased spouse’s estate tax records (as well as any other estates from which you inherited)
  • Military service records if retired military
  • Life, auto, homeowner and any other insurance policies
  • Deeds
  • Partnership or shareholder agreements
  • Financial statements for businesses
  • Employment agreements
  • Trust agreements (created by you, or for your benefit, or of which you are a trustee)
  • Children’s adoption papers
  • Divorce settlement
  • Combination to personal safes
  • Any relatively current appraisals of any property
  • Information concerning cost basis (including improvements in the case of real estate) of capital assets1
  • ATM and other electronic passwords and access information



1. This will be especially important if the income tax basis step up at death is repealed as scheduled in 2010. Your heirs will then take over your income tax basis at your death, rather than having the benefit of a new income tax basis equal to date of death value. Absent records, basis will be presumed to be 0.