16 Popular Estate & End-of-Life Planning Books to Read

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Have you stopped to think about how very important estate and end-of-life planning is? You may realize that organizing your estate saves your family members from the heartache of unfinished business.

Jump ahead to these sections:

Choose one book from the list below to get a jumpstart on your own estate and end-of-life planning.

Books on Estate Planning, Wills, and Trusts

Have you read a mountain of books on retirement planning and want to move on to learning about estate planning, wills, and trusts? These books offer great guidance as to why it’s so important to save your family from any confusion, heartache, or grief caused by an unfinished estate. 

1. The Wall Street Journal Complete Estate Planning Guidebook by Rachel Emma Silverman

Do you know where your property will go when you die? Unless you’ve clearly defined where your possessions go after you die, your family will have to go through a complicated process known as probate.

The last thing your family needs after your death is a stressful process to decide where your possessions go. For a step-by-step guide to planning your estate, dividing property to your heirs, ensuring minimal taxes, and making sure paperwork is airtight, pick up a copy of The Complete Estate Planning Guidebook.

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2. Beyond the Grave: The Right Way and the Wrong Way Leaving Money to Your Children (and Others) by Jeffrey L. Condon, Esq.

Leaving money to your family shouldn’t be a complicated affair, but thanks to federal tax law, state tax law, and a myriad of exceptions, exemptions, and legal loopholes, it’s important to make sure your family is covered when you die. Learn all the how-tos necessary in Beyond the Grave.

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3. The Living Trust: The Failproof Way to Pass Along Your Estate to Your Heirs by Henry W. Abts III

You want your heirs to receive their portion of the estate free and clear without entering into probate. Even if you have a will, probate could take 10 percent of your estate and tie up the process for years.

A living trust enables you to bypass those issues altogether and The Living Trust will show you how to do it.

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4. The Complete Books of Wills, Estates, and Trusts by Alexander A. Bove Jr., Esq.

Learn to defend your financial legacy, get around creditors, reduce the tax burden on your family, and establish power of attorney.

The Complete Book of Wills, Estates & Trusts is a straightforward yet humor-filled guide that will get you ready to leave your modest or extensive estate to your family with as little hassle as possible.

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5. Kids, Wealth, and Consequences: Ensuring a Responsible Financial Future for the Next Generation by Richard A. Morris and Jayne A. Pearl

While you’re getting affairs in order, one often overlooked area is in making sure your children and grandchildren are prepared for the inheritance they receive.

A large sum of money and property can be a blessing or a curse. Unless your children are prepared to handle the inheritance you give them, it could end up causing some damage. Kids, Wealth, and Consequences is a resource you can use to prepare them to handle their share of your wealth.

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6. The Everything Wills and Estate Planning Book: Professional Advice to Safeguard Your Assets and Provide Security for Your Family by Debora S. Layton

This book is a one-stop-shop that provides a comprehensive overview of estate planning, keeping your plans current, charitable giving, updated tax information, and guidance for unmarried partners.

From the popular “Everything” series, The Everything Wills And Estate Planning Book provides a balanced look at everything you need to consider for writing your will and planning to transfer your estate.

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7. Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won’t Have To by Melanie Cullen and Shae Irving, J.D. 

When you work your way through end-of-life planning, there’s one thing you’ll accumulate: paperwork. Get it Together walks you through a system to help you stay organized.

By the end of the book, you’ll have all of your papers in a binder for easy reference and access. You’ll have one place so you and your executor or loved one can access your passwords, insurance policies, tax records, estate planning documents, funeral arrangements, and more.

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8. What Matters Most: The Get Your Sh*t Together Guide to Wills, Money, Insurance, and Life’s “What-Ifs” by Chanel Reynolds

Author Chanel Reynolds mixes a tell-it-like-it-is attitude with a huge dose of compassion. In 2009, she lost her husband in a car accident and realized she was hopelessly lost when it came to dealing with end-of-life matters such as their mortgage, her husband’s passwords, and the fact that neither he nor she had a living will for their family.

In What Matters Most, she’ll direct you through everything you need to get your stuff together now so your family won’t be left reeling if the unthinkable happens.

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9. ABA/AARP Checklist for My Family: A Guide to My History, Financial Plans, and Final Wishes by Sally Balch Hurme

If you’re a “list” person who loves to-do sheets and visible reminders of what you need to accomplish, this all-inclusive guide for end-of-life planning is just the resource you need.

Organize everything from financial documents to funeral arrangements with Checklist for My Family.

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10. Get Your Ducks in a Row: The Baby Boomers Guide to Estate Planning by Harry S. Margolis

Get Your Ducks in a Row is created specifically for baby boomers who want to get into the estate planning process. There’s a lot that goes into estate planning, from costs to options to paperwork and legal documents and it can be downright overwhelming.

Remove the mystery and confusion from the estate planning process with this book.

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Books on Advance Care Planning, Legacy Planning, and End-of-Life Planning

Books about death may not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning for your estate to pass to children or wondering what legacy you’ll leave.

But in the planning process, it’s a good idea to tackle end-of-life and advance care alongside legacy planning. That’s why for part two of this book list, we’ve chosen books that will help you do all three.

11. A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death by B.J. Miller, M.D. and Shoshana Berger

End-of-life planning can be a hard subject to tackle. But when the focus is on living well, rather than on dying, an entirely new perspective is brought to the subject.

With a healthy dose of wit, an abundance of clarity, loads of compassion, and plenty of detail, A Beginner's Guide to the End will help you live well for all of your days until your last.

You read our full A Beginner's Guide to the End review if you'd like to know more.

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12. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Through the use of exquisite storytelling and practical examples, Gawande shares his own experience as a medical professional, helping people face death and live out their last days with certainty, purpose, and dignity.

Whether you’re reading Being Mortal for yourself while you face a terminal illness or you want to learn how to help someone you love cope with a devastating diagnosis, you won’t be able to put down Gawande’s accounts of hope and promise.

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13. The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care by Angela E. Volandes, M.D.

End-of-life planning can be a difficult conversation to have whether it’s with your spouse, your child, or your doctor. But in The Conversation, Volandes argues that it’s one of the most important conversations you can have.

Through the stories of seven patients, you’ll come to see why having these tough conversations now will help you tremendously in the long run.

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14. Your Meaning Legacy: How to Cultivate and Pass On Non-Financial Assets by Laura A. Roser

Planning to appropriately pass on your physical assets such as wealth and property is an important part of end-of-life planning. However, it’s just as important to pass on your legacy.

What do you want to be known for? How do you want to be remembered? If you want to learn how to build a legacy to be proud of, pass on your wisdom and knowledge, improve family communication, communicate goals, and avoid the regret of leaving lessons unspoken, Your Meaning Legacy will teach you how to do it.

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15. Create A Thriving Legacy: How to Share Your Wisdom and Wealth with Your Children and Grandchildren by Jeff Roger

Leaving a legacy requires thought, planning, and a process. In this dynamic book, you’ll dive into five “legacies,” including your personal legacy, a family legacy, your financial legacy, a business legacy, and your kingdom legacy.

Create a Thriving Family Legacy will help you ensure that your life and wisdom impact not only one generation but many generations to come.

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16. Your American Legacy: Powerful Strategies that Instill Lasting Values for Generations by Stan Miller

Everyone has values, wisdom, and life lessons they want to pass on. Your American Legacy will help you learn how to leave your family the stories, wisdom, insights, and knowledge necessary to lead a successful life.

Passing on your legacy requires more than a goodbye letter. Impact your children and grandchildren now and leave them with lessons that last long after you’re gone.

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Prepare and Plan to Say Goodbye

Your will, estate plan, and legacy won’t happen unless they are planned and prepared for. Make sure your final days are filled with promise, enjoyment, and purpose instead of regret by passing on your legacy and leaving a mark on generations to come.

If you're looking for more book recommendations, read our guide on the best inspiring biographies.

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