Prepare to Meet with Estate Planning Lawyer

It is wise to seek an attorney who is experienced in estate planning to assist you in making an estate plan.  In order to do their job to the best of their ability, your attorney needs certain information about you, your assets, and what your estate planning goals are.  Below is information that you should be prepared to provide at your first meeting with your attorney:

Names and Addresses

  • Your full legal name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your mailing address
  • Your telephone number (Work, Home, Mobile)
  • Your e-mail address

Estate Plan

  • Do you have an existing will(s)?
    • If yes, provide your attorney with a copy

Family Information

  • Your marital status: married or single
    • If single, are you: unmarried, widow/widower, or divorced?
    • Married person establishing a separate trust?
    • Do you have any children?
      • From your current marriage?
      • From a previous marriage?
      • Any adopted children?
      • Any deceased children?
        • If yes, name of deceased child(ren)
        • Did the deceased child leave any children?
  • Have any children received an advance on their inheritance or are any children financially indebted to you?
  • Is there any reason to treat all your children other than equally?
  • Are any of the children financially irresponsible?
  • Are any of the children under a disability?
  •  Have you been married previously?
  • If any child should predecease a parent, should his/her share pass through to his/her children?
    • If Yes to the above, please indicate grandchildren, if any:
      • Name
      • Date of birth
      • Parent’s Names
      • In the event of your death, who should be guardian of your minor children? (a guardian has physical and legal control over your children until they reach the age of eighteen)
        • First choice (Name/Address/Relationship)
        • Second choice (Name/Address/Relationship)
        • Other Pertinent Family Information or Explanation of Above Items

Trust

  • Do you wish to have a trust established for the benefit of your spouse and/or children?
    • If yes to the above, please indicate who the trustee(s) should be. (A trustee manages the assets for your children or other beneficiaries until they reach specified ages. If you do not establish a trust, children inherit at age eighteen. You may name an individual, bank or trust company, or both.)
      • First choice (Name/Address/Relationship)
      • Alternate trustee (Name/Address/Relationship)
      • Terms of distribution (education, marriage, etc.)
      • Ages(s) for distribution to children from the trust (Ex.: 1/3 at age twenty-one, 1/3 at age twenty-five, 1/3 at age thirty)

Personal Representative

  • Who should be Personal Representative (“executor”) of your estate? (A Personal Representative is responsible for probating your will, paying your debts, collecting your assets, and settling your estate.)
    • First choice (Spouse is normally named first)
    • Alternate name & address
    • Second Alternate name & address

Specific Bequests

  • Do you wish to make reference in your will to a separate list of any specific bequests of items of personal property that you wish to give to children or others?
  • Do you wish to make any charitable bequests?
  • Do you have a safe deposit box? If so, where?
    • Does anyone else have access to your box?

Other Estate Planning Tools

  • Are you interested in preparing a Power of Attorney granting another person the power to act on your behalf to manage your assets and pay your bills if you become incompetent or unable to sign your name?
  • Are you interested in preparing a Health Care Declaration (“Living Will”) stating your preference for health care if you are in a terminal condition?
    • If you are executing a Living Will or Health Care Declaration, please give your primary physician’s name and address
    • Do you have any special requests regarding funeral or burial instructions or organ donation?
      • If so, this is best handled by a Letter of Instruction or other statement from your will to your family or other responsible person.
      • Do you have a financial planner, investment advisor, or insurance agent?
        • If Yes to the above, please give name and address

 Information Regarding Assets

  • Married Couples:
    • Does the Husband has separate assets?
    • Does the Wife has separate assets?
    • Or are all assets are held jointly?
    • Estimated net worth of estate?
    • Cash or cash-equivalent accounts held at financial institutions:
      • Checking and savings accounts, or certificates of deposit, with banks, savings and loans, or credit unions. How many different financial institutions?
      • Investments?
        • Cash or money fund accounts, or certificates of deposit with stock broker firms. How many different broker firms?
        • Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds where your broker holds the certificates and sends you periodic statements showing your account balance. How many different stock brokerage firms?
        • Mutual funds where you deal directly with the issuing company rather than through your stock broker. How many different mutual fund companies?
        • Stocks and bonds (other than U. S. Savings Bonds) where you hold the certificates in your possession. How many different companies/issuers?
        • U. S. Savings Bonds.
        • Treasury bills or other government securities.
        • Limited partnerships. How many limited partnerships?
        • Oil and gas royalty or working interests. How many?
        • Oil and gas mineral rights in land. How many parcels of land?
        • Other securities [describe]
        • Retirement plans:
          • Individual retirement accounts (IRAs), Keogh, or other individual plans providing tax deferment for deposits and income.
            • How many different financial institutions hold IRA accounts for:
              • Husband
              • Wife
        • Employer-provided profit sharing, retirement, or other benefit plans. How many different plans for:
          • Husband
          • Wife
          • Complete this section if you own real estate
            • Personal residence
            • Other property.
              • How many different parcels of real estate do you own, other than your personal residence?
              • In what state(s) are these parcels located?
              • Are you purchasing any of the above properties on a contract for deed?
                • If Yes, provide details
  • Complete this section if you are engaged in business
    • Do you own a business, or are you a partner in a business?
      • If Yes, complete the following:
        • Business is organized as a corporation
          • How many corporations?
          • How many corporations are subchapter S corporations?
          • Business is organized as a partnership
            • How many partnerships?
            • Business is a sole proprietorship
              • How many different firms?
  • Receivables: If any money is owed to you, as payments on contracts, where you have sold a business, as payments on obligations secured by real estate, or where you have loaned money to someone and you hold a note, indicate each type of indebtedness that you hold:
    • Promissory note(s) secured by real estate
      • Amount(s) owed
      • Installment contract(s) of sale of personal property
        • Amount(s) owed
        • Unsecured promissory note(s)
          • Amount(s) owed
  • Life Insurance Policies: Please indicate the name of the person insured, the name of the insurance company, the face amount of the policy, and the type of policy:
    • Name of Insurance Face Type of Insured Company Amount Policy
  • Annuities: Please indicate the name of the annuitant and the type of annuity: (Do not list annuities under which no benefits are payable after the death of the annuitant)
    • Regular annuities payable for guaranteed minimum term or amount
    • Tax-deferred annuities
  • Personal property other than automobiles, trucks, boats, and trailers
    •  Household furniture and appliances
    • Collections, art, antiques, valuable jewelry
    • Automobiles
    • Boats
    • Recreational vehicles
    • Motor home
    • Business machinery and equipment
    • Personal equipment and tools
    • Farm or ranch machinery and equipment (other than general tools)
    • Livestock

Questions

Make a list of pertinent questions to ask your attorney.

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