The Gathering: An Important Step in Estate Planning

by | Jul 6, 2023

For many, the thought of creating an estate plan can be overwhelming. Beyond the obvious (and quite normal!) aversion to thinking about death, people tend to procrastinate simply because they don’t know where to start or what all it entails. More often than not, though, my clients express surprise and relief at the relative ease of the process.

I think of estate planning as a team effort. We at the Matechik Law Firm will do most of the heavy lifting (drafting, legal research, filings, etc.) with an important gathering assist from the client. Gathering the information and documents needed to create the estate plan is crucial. While this step might take a little time, most of the information should be easy to obtain—and ultimately, having it readily available in one place can come in handy for other occasions, too, such as buying a house.

Below are some common questions asked about the client’s gathering process, as well as a suggested list of documents to gather.

Do I need to obtain all the documents before the initial consult?

I can’t speak for all lawyers’ processes, but at the Matechik Law Firm, the answer is no, it’s not needed for the initial consult. Generally, I will just need some basic information about the client’s assets, family members, and overall goals for the estate.

Why is all this information needed, and how will it be used?

My goal is to develop the best possible customized plan for every client, ensuring that their goals and wishes are met. In order to do that, I must have a clear picture of financial footing, family dynamics, and current and future goals. It also helps if I can gain insight into how a client’s estate planning goals may have changed over time, and why.

What about documents not on the list?

As a general rule, it’s better to have more information than I need, rather than not enough. So, if it seems that a document or some information/insight might have some relevance to the estate plan, have me review it. It’s surprising how often things like unclaimed insurance policies, or a typographical error on a wedding certificate, are discovered during the gathering process.

Why are names and contact numbers needed?

Having a list of up-to-date contact information for anyone who will be named in the estate plan documents makes it so much easier to set the estate plan into motion and ensure that the client’s wishes are carried out as smoothly and as quickly as possible. Rest assured that this personal information is held in confidence, and that we will not otherwise reach out to the people on the list unless the client specifically directs us to do so.

Documents and Information to gather

  • A driver’s license or other state-issued or military ID. (We have to first confirm that you are who you say you are!)
  • Any existing estate-planning documents such as a Will, Power of Attorney, Designation of Healthcare Surrogate, medical directives, trusts, or guardianship papers.
  • A copy of the deed for any real estate owned.
  • A copy of the title for any vehicle owned, including watercraft.
  • Current bank statements. This is anything from a financial institution showing a dollar amount in your name: checking or savings accounts, brokerage statements, pension statements, etc.
  • Life insurance policies. Documentation of the plan, amount, and contact information for the underwriting company and/or a broker.
  • POD documents identifying who, if anyone, is the “payable on death” beneficiary for any financial assets or insurance plans.
  • Business operating agreements, or partnership agreements, for any business owned.
  • A list of all the people to be named in the estate-planning documents, along with their mailing addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers (if applicable). We’ll provide a clean, concise form to make this easy.
  • A copy of any pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements, if applicable.


Once the documents have been gathered, there are three ways to get them to us safely and securely. It’s very important to note that you should NEVER use email to forward important documents containing personal financial or medical information, since email systems can be unreliable and vulnerable to hacking. Instead, use one of the three convenient options we offer:

  • Drop off the documents in person to the Matechik Law Firm, located at 205 North Orange Avenue, Suite 202, Sarasota FL 34236.
  • Mail them to our firm, using the same address given above. Be sure to use the USPS option of “signature confirmation on delivery” so that you’ll be notified when we’ve received the package.
  • Use the encrypted client portal found on our website ( to safely and securely upload the documents to our protected files.

Finally, if locating some of these documents proves to be a challenge, never fear: we can offer suggestions on how to obtain extra copies. Our goal at the Matechik Law Firm is to make the estate planning process as easy as possible for our clients. We truly are here to help!

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DISCLAIMER: This blog is provided by The Matechik Law Firm, P.A. for general information only. The information presented herein not be construed to be formal legal advice. The information you obtain from this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. You are invited to contact The Matechik Law Firm, P.A. However, contacting The Matechik Law Firm, P.A. does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to The Matechik Law Firm, P.A. until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon blog posts such as this.