The first time you meet with your estate planning attorney can be stressful and emotional. Many people go into the meeting not knowing what to expect. In order to make your first meeting as painless and hassle free as possible, here are a few things to consider ahead of time
Think About Your Wishes Beforehand
Come to the meeting prepared. During this meeting, you will be making decisions that will affect your future and your family for generations to come. Estate planning decisions should not be made lightly. The size of your estate and the unique makeup of your family can determine aspects of your plan. Consider your specific needs.
- How would you like your estate to be distributed?
- Do you have any specific instructions for your personal items?
- Who would you like making medical decisions on your behalf?
- Are you concerned about anyone taking advantage of you if you become incapacitated?
- Do you have nonbiological children to consider?
- Would you like to leave a charitable legacy to a particular organization?
Bring Any Previous Estate Planning Documents
If you have previous estate planning documents on place, consider bringing those documents to your meeting. An experienced attorney will want to review your documents to see if they still align with your wishes. Over time estates, families, and wishes change; your estate plan should reflect those changes. The best estate plan is an up-to-date plan.
Bring an Asset List
A comprehensive list of assets will give your attorney a starting point. Some asset types will need to be included in your estate plan. An asset list with the asset, owner, beneficiary, and approximate value will allow your attorney to evaluate the level of planning you need. Your attorney may suggest re-titling assets or updating designated beneficiaries. Assets that should be included on your detailed list include:
- Any real estate you own, including your home, commercial properties, vacant land, leases, etc.
- Titled assets such as vehicles
- Business interests in corporations, partnerships or other business entities
- Investment accounts such as retirement funds, pensions, brokerage accounts, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
- Bank accounts such as checking, savings, and money market accounts
- Insurance policies
Prepare Now; Relieve Stress Later
While the thought of meeting with an attorney and making estate planning decisions may seem like a lot of work and stress, a little hard work now can save you and your family from headaches and heartaches in the future. An experienced professional can guide you through the process and make these vital decisions as painless as possible.
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