When you are getting ready to begin the process of estate planning, it is a good idea to gather certain documents prior to meeting with your attorney. Having these documents ready to go will help make the estate planning process go smoothly. Additionally, once you begin estate planning, there are documents that you will create along the way that are an essential part of the process.
If you have decided that you are ready to begin estate planning, it is essential to meet with a skilled estate planning attorney who can help you create the estate plan that is best for you and your family. Our attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver have many years of experience helping their clients create estate plans. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation to meet with one of our attorneys and get started planning for your future.
Financial Documents to Bring to an Estate Planning Meeting with Your Attorney
An initial estate planning meeting with your attorney can be more productive if you bring in financial documents and other information that can help your attorney determine what type of estate plan is best for you. It is a good idea to bring in your most recent bank statements, along with up-to-date statements of any retirement accounts and investment accounts.
If you own a home, you should also bring in a copy of the deed to your home. This way, your attorney can review it and make sure that this property is included in your estate plan. You should also bring in a copy of your life insurance plan (if you have one) and documentation associated with any retirement accounts or annuity plans.
If you are married and have a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement regarding finances and property, your estate planning attorney will want to take a look at it, so you should bring this into the meeting. It is also a good idea to bring in a list of those that you want to include in roles of authority (such as the trustee, executor, guardian, etc.) as well as their contact information. This way, you can more easily organize your estate plans.
Other Important Documents to Bring to Meet with Your Estate Planning Attorney
If you plan to include charitable organizations as beneficiaries, you should also bring in a list of the organizations you wish to contribute to, as well as contact information for them, if available. Your lawyer will then more easily be able to incorporate these charities into your estate plans.
Finally, it is advisable to bring in a list of any questions or concerns you have about the process. By doing this beforehand, you can make sure that you do not forget anything in the moment during your meeting with your estate planning attorney. It is also a good idea to include your estate planning goals in that list. This way, you will not lose track of what you want to accomplish with your estate planning.
Essential Estate Planning Documents Your Attorney May Help You Prepare
Throughout the estate planning process, your attorney may draft several estate planning documents for you. These documents may include a drawn-up will, a power of attorney document, or a document setting up a trust. The type of document or documents you will need depends on the estate plan you would like to set up.
Estate Plan - Setting Up a Will
If your estate plan only includes a will, rather than a trust, then you and your attorney will need to prepare a document detailing how you wish to have your assets distributed upon your death, along with various other considerations that will depend on your individual circumstances. This will be your will. You may also wish to have your attorney draft documents such as an advance medical directive and a financial power of attorney. An advance medical directive will set forth your wishes regarding whether you want extreme life-saving measures to be taken in the event you become seriously injured (such as life-support). A financial power of attorney is a document that designates a trusted individual to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so on your own.
Estate Plan - Setting Up a Trust Along with Your Will
Depending on your individual circumstances, you may also wish to set up a trust along with your will for your estate plan. Generally, your estate plan will also include the documents discussed above, but you will also have additional documents setting up your trust plans. You can choose between an irrevocable trust and a revocable one. The main difference between the two types of trusts is that with a revocable trust, you can make changes as needed throughout your lifetime. If you choose an irrevocable trust, generally you cannot make modifications to the trust since the assets no longer belong to you--rather, they are now owned by the trust.