No one likes talking about their mortality, much less planning for a time when they won’t be around. This is why more than half of individuals pass without a will or estate plan.
But if you want to ensure that your loved ones are protected, cared for, and provided for when you’re not there, then planning your estate is important. If you’re meeting with an estate planning attorney for the first time, it is important to be adequately prepared.
That way, you’re more likely to get a lot out of that first consultation. Plus, since you’ll likely pay the lawyer, you might as well make the most of the hour(s).
Create a List of Your Liabilities and Assets
Even if your lawyer hasn’t requested this information, having it will help speed up things and move them along faster.
Some of the documents you’ll need to bring along include real estate properties, financial statements, investment account details –including retirement accounts, IRA, Roth IRA, checking, savings, and other accounts– business agreements, stock certificates, trademark rights, intellectual properties, valuable personal items like art and jewelry, patents and many more.
Your account statement doesn’t have to contain a blow-by-blow detail of your transactions. Just a monthly balance is all that’s required. The idea is to tally all your assets and liabilities so that the estate can be properly planned. This way, the lawyer will be able to draw up a trust that’s peculiar to just your situation.
Determine Your Beneficiaries
Most people already have an idea of who they want as beneficiaries. But if you’re unsure or have other people in mind that you think could be listed as beneficiaries, mention them to your attorney and see what they think.
A good example of this is someone who is looking to add a charity to their trust or leave a portion of their estate to them. If you’re in doubt, ask your attorney some questions. Most of the time, they’ll offer you suggestions or even give you some new ideas that you can work with.
Pick Someone Competent to Administer or Settle the Estate
You’ll need someone to administer your trust and make sure that everything goes according to plan when you’re not there anymore.
These people are called Personal Representatives, and their job is to fulfill your requests or instructions regarding your estate to the letter. You may also give the power of attorney in the event that incapacitated or ill, and incapable of taking key decisions.
If you’re setting up a trust, make sure to name worthy trustees to administer the trust upon your passing. The good thing is you can name the same person(s) if you’re sure of their character and ability to carry out the tasks.
Now that you know the answers to the “How Do I Prepare for an Estate Planning Meeting?” question, you can now go ahead into the meeting better prepared and ready. Of course, you may need multiple meetings. This largely depends on your needs, requirements, and the attorney’s perception of the scope of your estate plans. So keep an open mind while you’re in the meeting.