If you are among the millions of Americans who has yet to create and estate plan, doing so now may make you may feel a little intimidated. You may be concerned about what you need to do to prepare if you have made an appointment with an estate planning attorney. To help put you at ease, and to make the most out of your appointment, here are some considerations to assist you in preparing for your appointment.
Things to Consider When Creating Your Plan
Whether you have made an appointment with an attorney already or are planning to do so in the near future, take some time now to consider the following things in preparation for your consultation:
- What Are Your Goals? When you think about estate planning, you likely focus on executing your Last Will and Testament to ensure that your estate assets are distributed according to your wishes. Your Will may serve as the foundation for your estate plan; however, a comprehensive estate plan can accomplish much more than just the division of your estate assets when you are gone. What other estate planning goals do you wish to include?
- Get Your Finances in Order. You likely have a fairly good idea of where you stand financially; however, when it comes time to create your estate plan you need very detailed information. Make a list of all assets, including current fair market value (FMV) for each, and any identifying information such as account numbers, login and passwords, and/or the asset’s location. Make another corresponding list of debts and liabilities.
- Gather Important Documents. Your estate planning lawyer will probably need to look at, and/or gather information from, a number of documents you likely have in your possession. By putting these together ahead of time your initial consultation will be more productive. Documents you might need include:
- Previous Wills
- Birth certificates
- Marriage and divorce documents
- Trust agreements
- Living Will
- Power of attorney
- Business documents for incorporation/partnership/buy-sell agreements etc.
- Ownership documents for major assets
- Who Do You Want to Appoint to Important Roles within Your Plan? You probably already know who your major beneficiaries will be; however, there are a number of other important roles within your estate plan that you should be contemplating right now. Fiduciary roles should be given considerable though so you can avoid a problem down the road. Who do you want to appoint as the Executor of your estate, for instance? Do not make the common mistake of appointing a spouse, friend, or family member without considering the duties and responsibilities involved in overseeing the probate of an estate. Likewise, if you decide to include a trust in your plan, you will need to appoint a Trustee. Your Trustee will not only be responsible for managing and investing your assets but will also be responsible for protecting your beneficiaries.
- What Questions Do You Have? Since this is the first time you have created an estate plan, you are certain to have questions. To ensure that you do not forget to ask any of them, take the time now to write them down. That way you will be prepared when the time comes. In addition, you may only have a short period of time during your initial consultation, so the better prepared you are, the more productive the meeting will be in general.
Please download our FREE estate planning checklist. If you have additional questions or concerns about creating your first estate plan, contact us at the Northern California Center for Estate Planning & Elder Law by calling (916)-437-3500 or by filling out our online contact form.