It is not necessary to have all your estate planning decisions made before your initial meeting with an attorney. After all, that’s what the meeting is for, to examine your situation and decide on a plan that meets your needs and those of your loved ones.
However, a little preparation before the meeting can help it go more efficiently. As an experienced estate planning lawyer, including those employed at Kaplan Law Practice LLC can explain, one of the most important things you can do before the meeting involves gathering important documents to bring with you.
Prior Estate Planning Documents
You may be creating an estate plan for the first time, in which case, you do not have any estate planning documents in your possession, yet. But, if you have created a will, advance directive, trust, or power of attorney in the past, you should bring these to your initial consultation to go over with your attorney. Together, you should review the documents to ensure that they still reflect your wishes and revise them if they do not. In most cases, it is possible to change estate planning documents as needed. However, some documents, such as an irrevocable trust, cannot be changed once they go into effect.
You don’t necessarily have to bring all of your financial documents to the first meeting, but you should be able to provide your attorney with a general overview of your financial situation. Bring along documentation that illustrates the “ins and outs” of your basic situation, such as statements for any bank accounts that you own, stock certificates, and life insurance policy information.
If you plan to place real estate that you own into a trust, you must provide a copy of the entire deed, as filed with the county recorder’s office, to your attorney so that they know precisely how the title is currently held.
When your estate plan ultimately goes into effect, it will be necessary to get in touch with your fiduciaries. These are people you have given authority to act on your behalf, such as an executor, a trustee, a health care proxy, and/or a guardian for your children. By providing contact information for them now, it will be easier for your lawyer to get in touch with them when they must assume their responsibilities.
Any beneficiaries who receive an inheritance from you will have to be notified in the event of your death. It will, therefore, also be helpful if you can provide this information at the initial consultation. You can ask any specific questions you may have about what you need to bring to your initial consultation when you call a local attorney’s office to schedule it.