Sudden Death Checklist

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If you suddenly die, will your family, clients and/or company employees be in turmoil?
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For Trustees: click here

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The Checklist in a nutshell

Overview, Process and Key Contacts

The purpose of this manual is to help caregivers and business owners avoid the typical pitfalls that follow a sudden death. It is not a will, but a checklist your loved ones can follow while reducing stress.

Wills, Trusts, and Important Documents

How to organize and store all of the family's estate, or important documents regarding the distribution of the business and its assets.

Money, Finance and Physical Assets

Access to income information, insurance coverage, bank account information, outstanding loans or debts, and all other physical assets of the estate or business.

Regarding the Company

Company contacts, insurance policies, succession plans, stocks, and governing issues.

Personal Document Folders

Keep all of the personal information and documents for the business in one secure and easy to find place. Easy access is important during times of high stress or crisis.

Financial Documents

Keep all personal, business, bank, credit and loan statements all in one easy to access area.

Take a peek inside the Sudden Death Checklist:

A limited preview of the book

Front cover


Table of contents




Introduction & purpose


Obituary template, 1


Obituary template, 2


Sudden Death Checklist - one stop for all your crucial information

Our Sudden Death Checklist is a comprehensive information storehouse that keeps all of the business owner’s crucial personal and business information in one place, in case of a sudden death or incapacitation. Jack Veale developed this checklist over decades of working with closely held, family owned businesses. Jack’s checklist started out as a 3 page spreadsheet integrated with the company’s long range plan and succession plan; gradually expanding the check list items to cover 100 pages! For example, 15 years ago, having logins and passwords on bank accounts, social media, and other websites was not on the list. IPhones and Android software did not exist. The most important value for this process is to engage the spouses, family and key advisors to help the owner create a plan that minimizes the family’s emotional and financial stress typically found during a funeral of a loved one.


From Jack’s view, caregivers' clients and business owners typically don’t plan for their early departure, and when decisions are left to their spouses and survivors, it usually impacts or harms the owner’s family and their employees negatively. How many times have you heard of a successful company decline into trouble when the owner suddenly dies? When a business owner or caregiver and their spouse completely fills out our Sudden Death Checklist, their family, employees and/or trusted advisors can follow the decease’s intentions and quickly take the reins of the funeral and estate settlement process. By following the checklist, the surviving family leaders can stabilize the business and avoid concerns of business continuity and family harmony. We typically find the cost of probate fees, especially in states like California, are far more expensive than the fees found working with trusted advisors in this process.


Our Sudden Death Checklist for Business Owners, Their Families & Employees is designed for estate planners and other key advisors to use our checklist to facilitate the discussions in an organized and thoughtful way. From Jack’s view,the owner’s key advisors work in isolation and don’t coordinate well with the business owner’s other advisors.He developed this checklist to engage other advisors as part of his strategy process, and to develop a comprehensive business succession plan. Our checklist helps trusted advisors coordinatewith other advisors, and the owner’s family, to customize the estate planning process. The goal is for business owners to engage their advisors to develop a carefully and thoughtfully prepared funeral and succession plan,to reduce the family’s emotional and financial stress in difficult times. It also designed to minimize the surviving family’s suffering during the funeral’s complex processes, and help their business retain the owner’s business and community legacy. When fully and correctly completed, this book should minimize the family’s emotional struggles with the hundreds of decisions and legal obligations required by the probate court and funeral process; as well as providing stability and peace of mind to the owner’s company and its employees. And more importantly for the business owner, it should ensure that his or her legacy continues without missing a beat; allowing for a smooth transition as he or she has planned.

Estate planners, including lawyers, wealth managers, accountants & other professionals: private-label our Sudden Death Checklist for your clients

A number of financial advisors, accountants and other professionals have already used the Checklist as an invaluable tool to help their clients plan for the unthinkable. Order the Checklist for your own practice and benefit your clients, as well!

Copyright note

Copyright © 2011, 2015, 2016 PTCFO, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying (except where permitted as indicated on individual pages in Sections 5 and 6), recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without expressed permission in writing from the publisher.

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Sudden Death Checklist

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Executors Checklist

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Trustees Checklist

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Download our Avery 10-Tab Template #11072 (PDF)


Download our Avery 10-Tab Color Template #11072 (PDF)


View/Download our Advisor Overview (PDF)

About the Author

Jack Veale, CMC, is an internationally recognized consultant, who advises closely held, family owned companies, including ESOPs, on business succession, ownership strategy and leadership development. Jack uses a number of tools to assess the organization on culture, leadership, and operating performance. Over the last 25 plus years, Jack has assisted hundreds of companies in many industries and countries, offering solutions covering strategic planning, succession planning, corporate governance, team training and crisis management.

Jack has authored or co-authored a number of books, including “Creating Strategic Innovation,” “Don’t Do That!” and “Sudden Death Checklist for Business Owners and Their Families/Employees.” Jack has spoken on a number of topics at national conferences, Family Business conferences, and regional association events.

Jack’s consulting career started in the late 80’s offering Part Time CFO services, and incorporated PTCFO, Inc in the early 90’s. By the mid 90’s Jack found he was not offering Part Time CFO services, so, he renamed PTCFO to Professionalizing The Corporate and Family Organizations, to reflect his help with ownership and management succession. By teaching how to identify value drivers, how to measure the company’s ownership culture, how to form teams, and to develop leadership through team empowerment, his client’s success increased. The one challenge with succession planning was dealing with the CEO’s sudden death which would cause havoc with the company’s strategy and family harmony. Over the years, Jack’s checklist started with a couple of pages and expanded the checklist to over 100 pages by the need to broaden the advisory team to solve complex ownership and estate plans.

Jack earned his BS in Business Administration from Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont, and his MBA from Boise State University, in Boise, Idaho. Jack is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) with IMCUSA, and a Fellow of the Family Firm Institute.Jack is a nationally known speaker on privately held, ESOP, or family business issues, speaking specifically to the challenges their businesses face in this highly competitive business environment.

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Sudden Death Checklist

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“Jack, I can't thank you enough for helping my family's estate plan with your book! You warned me the process could be difficult, and you were spot on that my wife would be active in following your process. I know our family is prepared. And, my wife and I were so impressed by the level of questions and detail that I ordered 20 books of your executor's checklist for my senior managers! They aren't business owners, so the sudden death checklist wasn't for them. I am glad you have the executor's checklist to address the same issues my family had but without the business ownership items, such as stockholder agreements and business transition plans. Our will and estate plan is far more developed now and my executors (our children) trained that I know when the time comes, my survivors will not have a mess on their hands. Thanks again!” —Private Company CEO

“Jack, your sudden death checklist 10 years ago saved my family! My CEO dad thought his estate plan was in place and well developed. My dad was 78, my mom in her mid 70's and my sister and I were in our 50's. What your book did for me, my mom, and my sister, was prepare US to manage the estate after either or both of my parents passed away. What my dad's estate plan didn't plan on was Alzheimer's. And my dad kept his estate plan mostly to himself. Your checklist uncovered so many things that my mom was able to work with their advisors to prepare my sister and I as co-executors and trustees. Your process of having meetings with advisors was a breakthrough as we became educated on the probate process as well as the funeral details. We spent months putting together the photocopies and birth/wedding certificates.. I can't imagine what it would be like to search for this stuff while looking for a casket! Your book did not have answers, but the right questions to ask. For example, there were checking accounts with only my dad's signature, and there were several safe deposit boxes without my sister and I as co-signers. Your checklist forced my parents to allow us to co-sign on all bank and safe deposit boxes. We estimate your book saved us over $150,000 in taxes, and professional fees. I can't imagine what my sister and I would have faced had we not followed your process. I am glad you added the executors and trustee workbooks as I am both an executor and trustee, and there are challenges to being both.” —Family Company President

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