How should you prepare for your first estate planning meeting?

On behalf of Scaringi Law posted in Estate Planning on Friday, September 25, 2015.

For readers who appreciate the importance of estate planning, questions may still exist involving how to prepare for that first meeting with an attorney. Today's post addresses some of those concerns.

First, an individual should try to get his or her documents in order. Of course, that process should include getting a copy of an existing will and/or any trust documentation, if those items have been created. But the process also includes preparing a list of basic family information for your attorney that includes the names, addresses and birth dates of potential beneficiaries, such as one's spouse, children, relatives or other loved ones. That list should also include children from a previous marriage.

This basic information will move the estate planning process forward. For example, in the case of minor children, a parent may want to designate a guardian who will have physical and legal control over the children until they reach the age of majority. Conversely, if an individual has adult children who are married, he or she may want to make allowances to pass some assets through to grandchildren or to shield them from the adult child's spouse. An individual may also want to name a personal representative who will be tasked with the duties of probating the will, paying any debts of the estate, and handling other administrative matters.

Another proactive step should be to begin listing one's values. For example, does an individual want to treat his or her children equally? Some children may require different treatment, such as a spendthrift trust that would be more appropriate for a child who is financially irresponsible or is disabled. That values discussion can also include a description of any medical treatment that an individual might want to decline in a health care directive.

In our next post in this two-part series, we will discuss some basic information regarding assets that a person can collect in advance of his or her meeting with an attorney that focuses on estate planning.

Source: FindLaw, "Prepare to Meet with Estate Planning Lawyer," copyright 2015, Thomson Reuters


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