When you decide to meet with your estate planning attorney, the very first thing to do is call and make an appointment. It sounds simple, but selecting a day and time that works well for you and your attorney will put you more at ease and give you a chance to get your thoughts together before starting the intimate conversation.
Once you have selected the time, start to gather your paperwork.
Some non-probate instruments that pass assets are life insurance policies, joint bank accounts, and jointly-owned property. If you have any of these, bring in the paperwork or at least be familiar with who might receive the proceeds from each. Your attorney will be able to take these items into account to get the full picture of your estate plan.
Next, think about who is important to you and who might need taking care of after you are gone. If you have children, who should look after them? Begin to consider whether the same person should be in charge of caring for your children and for doling out their money. It is perfectly okay to select a “kid taker” and a “money taker.” This concept is explored in more depth in our article Who Will Care for Your Children?
Similarly, it is common practice to select different people to serve as your Attorney in Fact (someone to whom you give Power of Attorney) and your Health Care Representative. Attorney in Fact should be the person who you would trust to handle money; they will be able to sign checks, make financial decisions, sell real estate if necessary, and exercise number of other powers you might assign to them.
Your Health Care Representative should be the person you would trust to make health care decisions for you. This person should be familiar with your personal wishes and beliefs, including religious traditions where necessary. Making medical decisions requires different personality traits than making money decisions, so you may likely find different people to fill both roles.
For each person listed in your estate plan, you will need to know the full legal name and current address. It is also a good idea to ask each person beforehand whether they would serve in their respective position. Opening the dialogue with these people may be one of the most valuable products of planning your estate early. Get these people on board with your wishes and what you are planning.
CHECKLIST of What to Bring to the Meeting:
- Paperwork for any non-probate transfers (life insurance, shared bank accounts, jointly owned property, etc.)
- Name and address of each person to whom you would like to leave something
- Name and address of the person you will name as your Personal Representative
- Name and address of child’s Guardian
- Name and address of child’s Trustee
- Name and address of your Attorney -in-Fact
- Name and address of your Health Care Representative
- Name and address of alternates to serve each of these positions
- Notebook to jot down questions that may arise during the planning process
What you will take away from the meeting: peace of mind that your loved ones and your property will be taken care of even when you are not around.
The attorneys at Griffith Law Group offer free estate planning consultations in order to alleviate some of the pressure associated with discussing this heavy topic. If you are interested in taking these steps, please contact us today to schedule an appointment.