So, you have taken the important step towards estate planning. Congratulations! You have your first meeting with your attorney scheduled and should absolutely be proud of yourself for checking this item off your to-do list. Now that the meeting is scheduled, you are likely wondering, “What next?” Well, next you prepare for your initial meeting with your estate planning attorney. The more prepared you are, the more you will be able to accomplish at the meeting.
Preparing for Estate Planning
First, it is likely that your attorney will have an intake questionnaire that you should fill out prior to your first meeting. These questionnaires are meant to give your attorney a basic understanding of where you are at, financially speaking, as well as paint a picture of your family structure, among other things. It will cover much of the basics on the front-end, so that you do not need to spend valuable meeting time going through things like the names and contact information for your family members.
The questionnaire is also likely to ask rather extensive questions relating to your financial situation. After all, much of estate planning is a lot like financial planning. You will want to account for your finances so that your attorney can best help you plan for what you should do with your assets for planning purposes and to establish how you want your assets distributed in the future.
As you compile your financial data and complete your initial questionnaire, you should take this time to also gather relevant financial documents. These documents may not be required at your initial meeting, but you will likely need them eventually and the sooner the better is a good rule of thumb to follow. Some necessary documents you will likely need to produce include:
- Real estate deeds
- Checking and savings account statements
- Investment account statements
- Business agreements
- Registration certificates for trademarks, patents, and copyrights
- Stock certificates
- Life insurance policy information
You should also collect any divorce agreements or premarital agreements, along with other relevant contracts that could impact your estate plan. It will be important to align your estate planning documents with these previously established contracts. Establishing an estate plan in contradiction to any such documents could complicate things greatly as well as risk the effectiveness of your estate plan.
If you have previously executed any estate planning documents, such as a will, powers of attorney, or trusts, then you should also be sure to bring these to your initial estate planning appointment. Your attorney will have to review these documents. If you are looking to amend any such documents, there are likely guidelines for such amendments that will need to be followed in order for them to be effective.
Estate Planning Attorney
At Verras Law, we want to help set you up for a successful and productive estate planning journey. Have questions? We are here with answers. Looking for more support? We will be there for you every step of the way. Contact Verras Law today.