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Tips in Making a Family Tree for Your Estate Plan

Creating a Family Tree is a helpful method to guarantee your estate plan encompasses all your wishes for distribution of your property.

A comprehensive estate plan includes a Last Will and Testament, Living Trust, Living Will and insurance policies. Depending on your personal circumstances, you may or may not need all of these documents.

Each of these documents involves making specific bequests to family, friends or charitable organizations.

It can be confusing trying to sort out the various bequests and properties made in each estate planning document. Drawing a Family Tree will help you make certain you have left bequests or property to each individual you wish to and no one is forgotten.

Outlining a Family Tree

If your parents are surviving, write their names at the top of your tree. Draw a line down to yourself. Extend the line horizontally and write down your siblings’ names.

Next, draw a line down from yourself and write in your children’s names. Do the same with your siblings’ names and mark down their children’s names.

If you wish to go further with your Family Tree, you can include your parents’ siblings and their children by drawing another horizontal line from your parents and continuing with the same format you used for you and your siblings.

It is beneficial to include birthdates and addresses, if possible. The more contact information you can include in an estate planning document about a beneficiary, the better. A common problem in distributing estates is locating beneficiaries. In some cases, the beneficiary never receives the bequest because he or she cannot be found. You can prevent someone you love not receiving his or her share of your estate by verifying personal information.

Assigning Bequests

Once you are satisfied with your Family Tree, the next step is to start with bequest designations. If you are married, you may want to leave your entire estate to your spouse. Alternatively, you could give the majority of your estate to your spouse and leave small bequests for other special people in your lives.

Parents likely want to divide their estate amongst their children. Grandparents might wish to divide their estate amongst both children and grandchildren. You do not have to divide your estate equally amongst your beneficiaries. You can allocate different size proportions to your beneficiaries.


Finally, double-check your family tree once you have finished to ensure you have included all your close relatives, their birthdates and addresses and written a bequest for those you have chosen.

Once you have completed the Family Tree, you can tell at a glance exactly what each person is receiving as a bequest.

If you’d like to learn more about making your family’s history part of your estate plan, contact our office today.

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