Your estate plan is a personal matter that should be discussed with and drafted by a lawyer you trust. While it can be helpful to obtain referrals from family members and friends, it is important to understand that the right attorney for them may not be the best fit for you. Many people also find lawyers by contacting their local bar association for a list of local, qualified estate planning lawyers. Don’t get pressured into using a professional that you are not comfortable with using. However you locate your attorney, it is essential to prepare for your initial consultation with him or her.
Before you first meeting with a lawyer, you should make a list of questions you want to ask so you don’t forget to get the answers you need. It is helpful if your documents and records are organized. You should also consider what your goals are for your estate plan. This will assist your attorney with making recommendations for the type of plan you should create.
A few pieces of information that will be helpful for your attorney to have include:
- A list of your beneficiaries, including anyone you want to specifically exclude from your estate plan
- Individuals who you want to appoint to serve as the trustee or personal representative of your estate
- An accounting of your most significant assets, including bank accounts, real estate, investment accounts, IRA or 401(k), life insurance, or other valuable items. It is also helpful if you know how assets are titled, i.e., joint tenants, individual names, etc.
- If you have minor children, you should consider who you want to appoint as their guardian
- If there are any special circumstances about your family or your estate that may impact the way your estate planning is handled (such as a special needs family member), be sure to discuss this with your lawyer
Taking the time to prepare for your initial consultation with your estate planning attorney will help expedite the process, which in turn saves you money. It is important that you remain active in the estate planning procedure and don’t rely on the lawyer to simply “handle things” for you. This is not your attorney’s legacy, so you want to ensure it is done the way you want! Your attorney should be a good listener, so that he makes sure he understands your needs, and then tailors your documents to fit those needs.
The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.