4 Items to Bring to Your Initial Estate Planning Consultation
How can I prepare for creating an estate plan?
For most people, a trip to their attorney’s office is as about as welcome as a root canal. We get it. We know you would rather be doing almost anything else with your time. So, we’ve put together this list of four items you should bring to your first estate planning meeting in order to shorten the amount of time you will spend at our office.
1. A general idea of what you hope happens to your family and your property after you die.
Most people make an estate plan because they want to ensure that their family members are taken care of after they are gone. Beyond that, what other goals do you have? Reducing taxes? Ensuring your business is able to continue operating without you? Preserving your legacy?
We cannot write a plan to fit your needs and desires if you don’t know what it is you want. Once we know what goals you have in mind, we can begin to put a plan into place that will make your vision a reality.
2. A list of the family, friends and organizations you would like to include in your estate plan.
Most people have already started thinking about who they want to inherit particular special items. That’s great! But it is only a small part of what you should be thinking about before coming to your first estate planning meeting at our office.
You should also be thinking about:
- Who is going to care for your children if you die unexpectedly?
- Who would you like to make medical decisions for you?
- Will that same person be in charge of your finances?
- Who is going to be in charge of following the instructions you leave?
- Who would you select as a back-up if your first choice for any role is unable or unwilling to do what you ask?
Ideally, you will have spoken to all of the people you are considering giving a role to or passing items on to in order to double check that they are on board with your plan before you come into our office. At the very least, make sure you have the full names, addresses and other contact information for each person and organization you plan to name in your estate plan.
3. A list of large assets that will need to be taken care of in the plan.
Many of our clients are surprised by how large their estate is. It is not because we are finding hidden assets or long lost inheritances, it is because they have never put together a full list of all the items that actually make up their estate.
A good indication that something belongs in your estate is that you had to fill out paperwork when you bought it or set it up. Property, cars, bank accounts, insurance policies, retirement accounts, season tickets to the Colts - all of these are examples of the types of items you should be listing.
4. An open mind and a positive attitude.
Thinking about death is hard. Nobody wants to do it. Nobody enjoys doing it. But it is something that needs to be done. Preparing yourself to face this task emotionally is just as important as getting your paperwork in order.