The Complete Guide to Organizing Your Records for Estate Planning: Step-by-Step Instructions with Companion CD-ROM


Planning your estate is a long, complicated process that requires much time and effort. The process of organizing your records for estate planning is equally time consuming and complex. Hiring an attorney to assist you may cost more than you are willing to spend. With the help of The Complete Guide to Organizing Your Records for Estate Planning, you can not only take charge of your estate planning documentation, but also save time, money, and effort.

In this new book, you will ...

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Planning your estate is a long, complicated process that requires much time and effort. The process of organizing your records for estate planning is equally time consuming and complex. Hiring an attorney to assist you may cost more than you are willing to spend. With the help of The Complete Guide to Organizing Your Records for Estate Planning, you can not only take charge of your estate planning documentation, but also save time, money, and effort.

In this new book, you will learn how to find an organizational system that works for you, where to look for records, what to record, who to tell, where to keep records, and how often to update your records. You will also find information on creating a will or a living will, setting up a trust, assigning power of attorney, and filling out health care directives.

Additionally, you will learn about the documents that should be included in your estate plan, such as insurance policies, Social Security cards, birth certificates of minor children, stock brokerage statements, credit card numbers and statements, certificates of deposit, real estate deeds, mortgage statements, retirement account savings, non-retirement account savings, and current bank statements. The CD-ROM is filled with sample documents and worksheets, as well as a checklist of often overlooked information, including any medications you take, where you worked, where your savings and checking accounts are located, where your car title is located, what your funeral plans or wishes are, and who should receive what.

The Complete Guide to Organizing Your Records for Estate Planning will help you prepare your documents and record your final instructions and wishes. By using the information provided in this book you will save money you might otherwise have spent on legal and accounting fees. In addition, you will save your family the frustration of searching for these documents if something should ever happen to you. This book, written in an easy-to-understand language, will walk you through the process of organizing your records and make the process much easier for you and your family.  The companion CD-ROM is included with the print version of this book; however is not available for download with the electronic version.  It may be obtained separately by contacting Atlantic Publishing Group at

Atlantic Publishing is a small, independent publishing company based in Ocala, Florida. Founded over twenty years ago in the company president’s garage, Atlantic Publishing has grown to become a renowned resource for non-fiction books. Today, over 450 titles are in print covering subjects such as small business, healthy living, management, finance, careers, and real estate. Atlantic Publishing prides itself on producing award winning, high-quality manuals that give readers up-to-date, pertinent information, real-world examples, and case studies with expert advice.  Every book has resources, contact information, and web sites of the products or companies discussed.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781601382351
  • Publisher: Atlantic Publishing Group Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/30/2008
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 860,797
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword 12

Introduction 15

Chapter 1 What Do You Need Before You Begin? 21

The Portfolio 21

The Portfolio 22

Chapter 2 How Much do You Know About Estate Planning 31

Estate Planning Quiz 31

Chapter 3 A Letter to Those You Love 37

Chapter 4 Your Biography 39

Fact Sheet 40

Children 40

Spouse 40

Physician 41

My Biographical Information 41

My Military Record 42

My Biological Parents 42

My Stepparents (If Applicable) 43

My Prior Marriages (If Applicable) 44

My Employment 45

My Children 46

My Grandchildren 47

My Siblings 47

My Nieces or Nephews 47

Other Important People to Notify 48

People Who Should Not Be Contacted 48

Birth Certificate 49

Social Security Card 49

Adoption Record 50

Church Records 51

Marriage License and Divorce Decrees 51

Military Records 52

Death Certificates 53

Pictures and Memorabilia 53

Family Tree 54

Chapter 5 A List of Instructions about Your Estate 55

Portfolio Instructions 56

In Case I Am Incapacitated 56

First Two Days 57

Second Week 59

The First Month and Beyond 60

Chapter 6 Your Children 63

My Children 66

Caregiver and Guardians 67

Information about Children 69

Children's Letters 72

Chapter 7 Care of Others 75

Information about Adults who Rely on Me 75

Chapter 8 Your Pets 79

Pet Care Instructions 80

Chapter 9 Employment 83

Employment Information 84

Chapter 10 Business Ownership 87

Current Business Interests 93

Prior Business Interests 97

Chapter 11 Clubs and Other Organizations 101

Type of Organizations 101

Memberships 111

Chapter 12 List of Service Providers 113

Professional Service Providers 114

Professional Providers 115

Chapter 13 Life SupportInformation 117

Health Care Declaration 119

Power of Attorney 121

Health Care Directives 125

Chapter 14 Durable Power of Attorney of Finances 127

Temporary Financial Powers of Attorney 136

Chapter 15 Organ Donation 139

Chapter 16 Your Burial Arrangements 145

Burial 146

Cremation 147

Embalming Issues 149

Caskets 150

Urns 151

Burial Markers 152

Epitaphs and Other Extras 153

Final Touches 153

Disposition of Remains 154

Financial Concerns 160

Chapter 17 Funeral Decisions 161

Viewing 162

Visitation 162

Wake 162

Memorial Service 163

Funerals 164

Who will Preside? 165

Funeral Arrangements 168

Financial Concerns 173

Chapter 18 Last Words 175

Obituary 178

Chapter 19 Will and Trust Information 181

Wills 183

20-Something with No Children 187

Have a Partner but are not Married 187

Have Minor Children 188

Financially Stable and Midlife 188

Old Age or Bad Health 189

Ethical, Holographic, and Oral Wills 189

Trusts 190

Other Types of Trusts 194

Executor 195

Probate 198

Probate Avoidance Techniques 199

Lawyers 202

Will 206

Chapter 20 Insurance Policies 211

Types of Business Liability Insurance 213

Life Insurance 214

Term Insurance 215

Permanent Life Insurance 216

First-to-Die Insurance 218

Insurance Information 223

Insurance Policies 224

Chapter 21 Automobile and Other Vehicle Information 227

Vehicles 229

Chapter 22 Debts 231

Every-Day Debt 231

Long-Term Debts 232

Location of Bills 239

Chapter 23 Social Security and Other Government Benefits 243

Social Security Retirement Benefits 244

Social Security Benefits 247

Chapter 24 Bank Accounts 251

Bank Accounts 253

Chapter 25 Employment Pensions and Retirement Benefits 255

Employer Retirement and Pension Plans 256

Chapter 26 Real Estate Ownership 257

Sole Property Ownership 257

Community Property Ownership 259

Real Estate 260

Chapter 27 Tax Information 263

Tax Professionals 265

Prior Years' Tax Records 266

Chapter 28 Other Information 267

Other Income 268

Other Personal Property 269

Property I am Expecting 270

Warranty Records and Product Guides 271

Passwords and Access Codes 272

Chapter 29 Storage and Keeping Records Safe 273

Storage Tips 273

Safety Deposit Boxes 275

Safety Deposit Box 277

Chapter 30 Conclusion 279

Appendix A Case Studies 281

Appendix B Answers to the Estate Planning Quiz 323

Appendix C Veterinary Schools that Take Pets 327

Bibliography 331

Author Biography 332

Index 333

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2010

    Organized Organizing

    The Complete Guide to Organizing Your Records for Estate Planning
    Reviewed by Jaimie Adler

    I found this book to deliver exactly what the introduction promised it would, which is rare. I found the book to be clear, easy to follow and contain lots of great hints and ideas - two copies of everything is case of damage -brilliant! I also found the worksheets to be well laid out and easy to complete.

    In chapter 1 where the author listed his recommendations of what to include in your file was thoughtful as well as helpful - biography, a letter to those you love...he didn't miss a beat..organizations and clubs, charities,,things one might forget when knee deep in preparing for the worst.

    Without sounding redundant, each chapter was well thought out, clear and written in a way that not only reminded me to set up my estate, but after reading this, I felt it was a task that if done in a calculated fashion like the book suggests, could be done with limited stress and anxiety.

    4 starts

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  • Posted July 28, 2009

    Great Handling of a Touchy Subject

    I'll be honest; when I first opened this book, I was prepared for a very dry and technical bore-fest. I was surprised to find that John Peragine took a topic that can often be uncomfortable and sensitive - planning for one's death - and handled it with sensitivity and compassion. He made a task that is often so overwhelming that people can't even wrap their heads around it, and made it manageable. There are even tips for writing a personal letter to your family, which was a nice touch. The Complete Guide to Organizing your Records for Estate Planning is an excellent tool to use in accomplishing this necessary goal, especially if you have children.

    Some of the features I appreciated about this book were the detailed charts that included plans for every aspect of your life, right down to access codes, passwords and pet care. I never would have thought of making a family tree for my kids as part of an estate planning portfolio, but it makes perfect sense. The inclusion of things like photos and memorabilia humanizes the text without getting overly sentimental. Peragine understands that he's communicating with real people.

    Speaking of real people, there is a wealth of knowledge cited throughout the guide from attorneys and professionals. The quotes used in the main text were unobtrusive and useful; however, I found the case studies at the end to be a little off-putting. They felt like endorsements for people to use lawyers and didn't seem to add much beyond what had already been stated in the body of the book. While they may make valid points about the necessity of hiring attorneys for estate planning, this portion of the book seemed to undo the earlier tone of the work.

    Overall I'd rate this book a 5 out of 5. I highly recommend reading the text and completing the portfolio as soon as possible.

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  • Posted July 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Must-Have Resource

    Although Karen F. Viera targets real estate professionals in "Online Marketing Techniques for Real Estate Agents and Brokers," she has really given all business owners an outstanding guide to the use of the internet in developing a robust business and an active and engaged clientele. In "Online Marketing Techniques," Ms. Viera very persuasively makes the case for the use of websites, blogging and other on-line vehicles as necessary elements for any marketing strategy and she presents those elements in a methodical, easy to read fashion that is never condescending to her readers. Indeed, relatively complex internet marketing techniques such as "search engine optimization" are explained in a way that will allow even the most technologically challenged reader to apply Ms. Viera's lessons to the everyday task of developing a business.

    Although "Online Marketing Techniques" offers a comprehensive examination of most aspects of on-line marketing and the use of both the internet and more traditional media in the development of a brand and a business, there is one glaring omission that Ms. Viera should address in her first revision of the work. Specifically, Ms. Viera fails to adequately explore the marketing power of social networking websites. Admittedly, she does reference Facebook, MySpace and similar sites in passing, but those types of social networks, along with Twitter and the rest of the ever-expanding universe of social media sites, deserve at the very least their own chapter, if not an entire section of the work. It is simply not enough to mention that marketing requires the use of Facebook, MySpace and other such sites. Effective use should be fully explained.

    Ms. Viera's treatment of social networking sites notwithstanding, "Online Marketing Techniques for Real Estate Agents and Brokers" remains an excellent primer on the use of the internet and traditional media in the development of a cohesive marketing strategy - both for real estate professionals and for anyone who wants to develop their business to its fullest potential. The Internet is not going away any time soon, but businesses that fail to follow Ms. Viera's advice may very well find themselves unable to compete in the digital age.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A GREAT place to start

    As a single mother of two young children, estate planning and ensuring my children's future is definitely on my mind. I know I need a will and I know I need to make sure that my children have a guardian if something should happen to me. After dealing with my mother's affairs, I am painfully aware of how difficult it can be when a love one does NOT have the appropriate plans made. Incapacitation can happen suddenly and death is inevitable, but the frustration doesn't need to be.

    What surprised me about this book was how thorough it was. I'd say it was overwhelming in how much it covered, but it lays it out so well and walks the reader through it one step at a time so that it seems doable. In the end, not only are the basic necessities covered, but your loved ones are left with something more - things I'd never even thought of before.

    The idea the author offers is to create a 3 ring binder to organize and store information. Making a couple of copies of the binder makes sense. But the book goes even further. Along with the standard documents such as a will, life insurance policies and powers of attorney, it also suggests (and show you how to create) letters to friends, family and loved ones, even letters to children.

    Most of us don't want to think about our "final" affairs unless we absolutely have to, but what a powerful way to say, "I love you enough to take care of you even if I'm not here."

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 31, 2009

    Buy Yourself Peace of Mind

    After reading this book I realized, if I were to die suddenly, my family would be left in the dark. They would not know my last wishes, where my will is located, or who to contact. There is a lot of important information that goes into estate planning. But, not only do you have to gather the info you also have to know where to put it and who to put in charge of it. This book explained it all.
    It made the maze of legal jargon easy to understand. There are so many things to think of and take care of; with this book you won't overlook any of them. The price of the book seems almost small for the peace of mind it provides.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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