Bet you never thought to compare your estate planning attorney to your eye doctor. But the experience is similar. Both your estate planning attorney and your eye doctor ask you questions to determine the right prescription for you. “Do you like it this way or that way?” “Which is clearer number 3 or number 4?” This is customized analysis, necessary to determine your prescription for both estate planning and glasses. In fact, sometimes the estate planning attorney determines that you don’t need certain planning just as the eye doctor determines that you don’t need glasses.
Estate planning has a strong counseling foundation and is a labor intensive area of legal practice. You will likely spend a significant amount of time in legal counseling with your estate planning attorney. It is much more than filling out forms from some internet source or do it yourself living trust CD. How do you know what to put in the blanks anyway? How do you know if the blanks apply to you or what they really mean? What if you need something additional or something else entirely? What if a question critical to your situation is not even asked about or provided for in the boilerplate documents you find online or on CDs.
This means that your estate planning attorney will work with you to set personal and financial goals and to make good choices that will achieve as many of these goals as possible. For instance, do you want to encourage your grandchild to community service or higher education? Do you want to protect and preserve the family vacation house so it can stay in the family? Do you want to protect the gift you leave so your children aren’t disinherited if your spouse gets remarried after your death? Do you want to protect your children’s and grandchildren’s inheritance if they get divorced or develop a drug or alcohol problem?
Do you like it this way or this way? Be sure to be forthcoming with your estate planning attorney just as you would your eye doctor. Truly share your hopes, dreams, goals, and personal financial and family information. The more information your estate planning attorney has, the better your estate plan will fit your particular needs.