Why Do Estate Planning:
When our clients do Estate Planning their desires usually include some or all of the following:
“I don’t want to leave a mess - I don’t want that to be my parting statement to those that survive me.”
“I want to do my part to take care of my own affairs, and make it easy for those who will take over after my death.”
“I don’t want anyone fighting as a result of my death.”
“I don’t want to waste taxes, or have my estate go to lawyers or other costs of settling my estate.”
“I want my wishes known. And I want them to be honored. I want a plan in place.”
“I want that plan to include taking care of the people that are relying on me, those that I want to protect, and those that I love.”
“I want one place where my loved ones can go to find my papers and figure out what I have and what to do when I can no longer handle my own affairs.”
“I want to line up people I can trust that will know my plan and have the expertise to help my family when the time comes.”
What to Bring:
Clients often ask what to bring to the first estate planning meeting. If you arrive with nothing, and without any advance planning, you will be fine.
The decisions are like a decision tree, where if you answer “no” to the first question, you don’t have to consider the whole “yes” side of the tree. Part of our job in serving is to spot issues, and to make sorting through the possibilities easier for you.
In the distant past, we had long checklists available to help clients sort through this process, but we found that clients did not like or use the checklists.
Listed below are some items that are sometimes useful, depending on the nature of your asset holdings and your desires.
- Any Last Will, trust, powers of attorney, and related papers you currently have.
- Recent financial statements listing your assets and liabilities.
- Deeds to real estate, including timeshare interests.
- Summary statements and copies of policies for any life insurance insuring your life.
- Summary statements and copies of policies for any annuities you own.
- A recent statement for each brokerage account.
- Recent income tax returns.
- Benefits summary for any employment benefits.
- Governing documents for any private company you own (like corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies).
Do not stress over this list, especially because you may not need some or any of these items at all.