Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Estate Planning Starters

Save Time and Get Organized

Once you have decided to create or update your estate plan, you will eventually need to talk with an estate planning attorney. He or she can draft your will or trust so that it accomplishes your goals, like how you want to distribute your estate, whom you want to be your executor or personal representative and what charities you wish to support.

But first, check and review these estate planning starters. It will save time and lead you to the options that meet the needs of your beneficiaries, protect your estate and keep your potential taxes as low as possible.

Estate Planning Starters

Checklist: Info You Will Need

  • Names, addresses and birth dates for you, your spouse, your children, your parents and your siblings (note any step-children)
  • An inventory of your current assets and liabilities—write down current market value of every major item you own and the face value of any life insurance
  • A copy of any current or prior estate planning documents, including powers of attorney, and their location
  • A copy of any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
  • The nature of any premade funeral arrangements
  • The state of your legal residence (give your attorney all of the particulars if you have a home in another state)
  • The name(s) of your deceased or former spouse(s) and any documents that would help determine if he or she has remaining inheritance rights
  • Any physical or mental disabilities or marital problems of your beneficiaries, as well as money management concerns
  • A listing of real estate: location, improvements, title, value, mortgages and the location of papers
  • Records distinguishing community property from noncommunity property, if applicable
  • The names of any pets you want to provide for in your estate plan
  • The location of any gift tax returns
  • Details about your employment benefits: group life insurance, retirement, etc.
  • Details on annuities and life insurance policies: owner, beneficiary, policy number, etc.
  • Details about business interests: estimated values, proportions owned by you and by others and a copy of any buy-sell agreements
  • The nature and value of royalties and/or patents owned by you
Estate Planning Starters

Questionnaire: How Do You Want Your Estate Divided?

  1. After your lifetime, how and to whom do you want your estate distributed?
  2. If you and your spouse die before your children are old enough to manage large amounts of money, who should be the trustee of their money? Who should be their guardian while they are minors?
  3. How do you want your investments managed after your lifetime? Should your spouse manage them? If not, from whom should your spouse seek help? Have you thought about trusts?
  4. Do you want to minimize income and other taxes? Do you know how a trust can save taxes?
  5. If you are not survived by a spouse or children, do you want to benefit other relatives?
  6. Are there charitable organizations, such as BBCW, that you would like to support?

Do not forget to ask your attorney about preparing for incapacity with powers of attorney and a living will or advance directive. A health care power of attorney appoints a trusted individual or individuals to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to and a financial power of attorney appoints an agent to handle all financial transactions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. A living will or advance directive documents your wishes regarding life-sustaining care. It can be as detailed or as simple as you like.

Estate Planning Starters

Next Steps

A gift in your estate plan is a flexible way to extend your support for the Buffalo Bill Center of the West into the future. Let us know if you have any questions about making a gift from your estate or if you have already done so. We would love the opportunity to thank you. Preferences regarding anonymity will be respected, of course.

Amy Sullivan
Director of Development
Phone: 307.578.4014
720 Sheridan Ave.
Cody, WY 82414

Meet the team

Estate Planning Starters

Let us know your questions.

I Have a Question

Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address

Thank You for Contacting Us

Someone from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West will be in contact with you soon. If you need to speak to us immediately, please call us at 307.578.4014.