So, you decided it is time to meet with an estate planning attorney and plan for the future. Great decision! This step will make sure your family is protected when you die. But now that your appointment is scheduled, what do you do next? You can either just wait for the appointment date to come or you can get organized and prepared for the first meeting.
Before You Meet with Your Attorney
Going to your first meeting with your thoughts organized and your important papers ready will make the meeting productive and valuable. But going without having things ready will make your attorney’s job more time consuming and may cause you to leave confused and overwhelmed. Here are some things that will help you get organized and be prepared for that first meeting.
- Create a complete list of all of your assets and liabilities.
- List what you own. List bank accounts, investment accounts, real estate, retirement accounts and life insurance. You do not need to list your personal property.
- Add how you own the above assets. Are they only in your name or in joint names with someone else? Is your spouse, child, sibling or someone else listed on your assets?
- Write down if you have already designated a beneficiary for any of the accounts or policies.
- Be sure to list what and how much you owe on things such as mortgages, car loans and credit cards.
- Contemplate who you want to inherit your estate. Then you will need to decide when and how they will inherit your estate.
- You have many options as to how and when your beneficiaries receive their inheritance. It could be given outright in one sum or in stages. Some could be awarded immediately and more after college, after getting married, or at specific ages. A lifetime discretionary trust could also be used to distribute the assets.
- Listen to your attorney’s advice. Think about what would be best for each beneficiary based on their current needs and what needs they may have in the future.
- Decide who you may want in charge if you were to become incapacitated or die.
- You will need to determine guardians for your minor children. An executor of your will, successor trustee of your trust, attorney in fact of your power of attorney and health care agent in your medical directive are all positions you need to consider. These chooses are very important and should not be made lightly without a lot of thought.
- It is important to choose the right person for the job because your estate plan that you have thoroughly planned could come to a stop. That person maybe simply the wrong person, decline the responsibility or just not be able to take on the job. Spend time and make a wise choice.
- You attorney will be happy to help you make the final decision of who should serve as your fiduciaries. Have in mind which family members or friends would be good possibilities and who you don’t think would be a good candidate.
It may seem that there is a lot to do in order to be ready for your first estate planning meeting, but the effort will be worth it. You can do it!