Most people do not like to think about their mortality, so they may put off estate planning. However, an estate plan does more than dictate that your sister gets that oil painting. An estate plan ensures your property is dispersed correctly, your family is taken care of and that your wishes are respected regarding medical care. A properly executed estate plan protects you, your family and your assets. Still, meeting with your estate planning attorney for the first time may provoke feelings of nervousness or anxiety. Understanding the information your attorney will likely need can help you prepare and relieve tension.
Information about family
Your attorney will need the names and contact information for your spouse, children, grandchildren, stepchildren, and any former spouses. If you are including any other relatives in your will, the estate planning attorney will need their full names and contact information as well. You will also go over information about possible guardians, if you have minor children at home. Be prepared to name someone for this potential role.
Assuming you own real estate, your estate planning attorney will want to know about all your owned properties. He or she will need information like the address, names on the mortgage, value and balance left on the mortgage. A current mortgage statement and a property value assessment would include this type of information.
This includes bank accounts, mutual funds, stocks, bonds and all non-retirement assets. You could bring current statements, but for the first meeting, the attorney will mostly be concerned about the names are on these accounts and an estimated value.
You will want to provide information for all types of retirement savings, like a 401k, IRA, pension, Roth or any type of retirement account. The estate planning attorney will want the bank information, estimated value and any listed beneficiaries.
Again, bringing in a current statement may be helpful. Your attorney will want to know what company holds the policy, the type of policy, names on the account and any beneficiaries.
If you are a business owner, your attorney will need to know the type of business, where it is located and if ownership is shared with another party.
This is where that oil painting comes in. If there are specific assets you want to pass on, you will need to provide your attorney with a list of these assets and who you want to receive these gifts. Again, your attorney will need full names and contact information for everyone who is receiving an item from your estate.
Before you meet with your attorney, you may want to consider whether you want a will or a living trust. You should also think about issues like picking a durable power of attorney or creating a living will. If you are unsure which options may be right for you, your estate planning attorney will discuss the benefits of each and help create a plan tailored to your situation.