13 Jul What to Bring to Your First Estate Planning Meeting
Congratulations on setting an appointment to meet with an estate planning attorney! That is an important first step in setting up your estate plan.
If this is your first time speaking with an advisor, chances are good you have questions on what to bring to the estate planning meeting. For example, what types of documents should you bring? Do you need a full list of all your assets—and what exactly counts as an asset? Do you need to bring contact information for every person you want to list as a beneficiary?
To help you prepare, here is the list from the experts at Phelps LaClair of what to bring to your first estate planning meeting.
Estate Planning Checklist—Four Things to Bring to Your First Meeting
Item 1: Information for Your Current Assets
When people ask us how to prepare for their estate planning meeting, one of the first things we tell them is to take some time to collect information on all their current assets. By “assets” we mean anything that you own that has value.
Assets can be tangible items—like homes, vehicles, boats, jewelry, and collectibles like art and antiques. They can also include intangible items, like stocks and bonds, bank accounts, 401Ks, IRAs, health saving accounts, and life insurance policies.
As you prepare for your estate planning meeting, sit down and list everything you own that has value. And, if possible, bring documentation along with you for each asset. For example, bring recent account statements for bank accounts, 401Ks, and other investments, as well as any deeds or titles showing ownership of your home and vehicles.
Item 2: List of Beneficiaries
Next, make a list of the people you want to name in your estate plan as beneficiaries, and which assets you want them to receive. For example, who do you want to leave your home and vehicles to? Who do you want to receive your prized stamp collection? Try to include current contact information for each person, so it can become part of your estate plan documents.
Although you may think you have plenty of time to list your beneficiaries, we always advise our clients never to leave that section blank. One never knows what will happen, and if you do not have beneficiaries established, your assets will enter probate and the state will decide where they go.
Item 3: Names of Executors
You should also come prepared with a list of people you want to make executors for your estate. For example, if you become incapacitated and need someone else to make decisions concerning your estate, who would you want to designate as your power of attorney? You may also want to establish a medical power of attorney to make medical decisions on your behalf if you lose consciousness or can no longer communicate your healthcare wishes.
Bring a list of any close family members and friends you would trust with taking care of your estate in your stead, and include their current contact information if possible. Your estate planning attorney can go through all the options with you to help you select the right people for those jobs.
Item 4: Your List of Questions
Your initial estate planning meeting is a great time to bring all of your questions so you can get some answers from your estate planning attorney. Are you confused about the differences between a will and a trust? Not sure if you need a revocable or irrevocable living trust? Or maybe you have questions on how a recent divorce or upcoming retirement will affect your estate plan. No matter what the question is, write it down and bring it with you! Part of establishing an estate plan is securing peace of mind.
Making the Most of Your Next Estate Planning Meeting
Now that you know what to bring to your first estate planning meeting, you will be fully prepared and can make the most of your time with your advisor. A little prep work ahead of your meeting ensures you will be able to craft an estate plan that upholds your wishes and fits all of your needs.
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