Before you meet with your estate planning attorney, he or she will instruct you to bring along vital financial documents. All tax and personal financial records are equally important. It is imperative that you not only bring these along but keep them organized and readily available in case they are needed later on.
IRS officials recommend keeping tax documents, including pay stubs, W-2s and 1099s for up to seven years. Even though IRS officers can audit only three years back, these documents can be important in a probate court or other estate issue.
There are certain personal records that are important to estate planning. These include birth and death certificates, marriage or divorce decrees, wills, trusts, social security numbers, military service records and pre- or postnuptial agreements. These documents should be kept in a safe deposit box or secured safe inside your home. Copies should be left with an estate planning attorney or at a secondary location in case your home is compromised in any way (e.g., fire, natural disaster, burglary).
Any time you make a major purchase (i.e., new home or car), you need to keep those documents. Your estate planning attorney will want records of these, especially if these assets will be included in your estate planning documents.