Your First Estate Planning Appointment
Congratulations! You’re ready to begin the estate planning process. Preparing for your initial appointment will help you and your estate planning attorney create an estate plan for you as efficiently as possible.
First things first. Let’s acknowledge that preparing for your initial estate planning appointment means facing your own mortality, which is not an easy thing to do. Deciding that you’re ready to get your affairs in order and scheduling that initial meeting are important first steps. Here are the next steps you can take to make the estate planning process as smooth as possible.
Fill out the intake questionnaire as completely as possible.
When you schedule your initial estate planning appointment, your attorney will likely send a questionnaire. This confidential form is designed to help the attorney understand your family and your financial situation. Fill out the intake form accurately and completely so your attorney can provide the best recommendations.
Gather your documents.
Although it isn’t critical to have all your documents at the initial appointment, creating a list of what you need to collect is an important step to take. And the sooner you provide these documents to your attorney, the better. These documents may include:
- Real estate deeds
- Financial statements
- Business agreements
- Intellectual property certificates
- Stock certificates
- Life Insurance policies
- Existing estate planning documents
- Divorce agreements, premarital agreements, and other contracts
- Digital asset information
Choose your executors and health care agents.
You’ll have to decide who you’d like to manage your finances and carry out your estate plan if you become incapacitated and when you pass away, as well as name one or two alternates. This is a big responsibility to ask someone to undertake. If you have trouble finding someone both suitable and willing, discuss using a professional fiduciary with your attorney. You should also decide who will make your health care decisions for you if you no longer can.
Think about how you want your assets to be distributed.
Although many people know exactly how they want their assets distributed after their deaths, not everyone does. If you aren’t certain about how you want to divide your estate, you’re definitely not alone! This is where an experienced estate planner can guide you through the decision-making process. Remember, you’ll also need to name alternates (called contingent beneficiaries) here too.
Bring your questions!
While the estate planning process is likely a new undertaking for you, it’s what estate planning professionals do every day. In addition to all the documents requested, bring a list of your questions. Some common questions clients ask include:
- The attorney’s estate planning experience
- The fee structure and payment expectations
- The pros and cons of a Will vs. a Trust
- Tax and legal considerations in estate planning
- How long the process will take from initial meeting to signed documents
- What kind of support the office provides during the estate planning process
All your questions are important. Be sure to jot down any questions that come up as you prepare for your initial meeting so that you can get the answers you need.
You’ve got this!
Making that first appointment may be difficult, but you’ve got this! You can prepare by thinking about who your beneficiaries and decision-makers should be, listing and collecting as many ofyour documents as you can, and preparing all your questions for your attorney. With good preparation and open communication, you’ll be off to a great start!
Virginia Estate Planning Attorneys
If you’re ready to begin the estate planning process, call us today at 866-603-5976 to set up your complimentary meeting to discuss your goals and concerns or fill out our contact form and we’ll call you to schedule a meeting so we can get to know each other.