Arranging for your first consultation with an estate planning attorney can help calm any concerns and maximize your time with them.
To help you follow through with it, remember why you're creating an estate plan: to protect the future for you and those you love.
Below are suggestions for information to collect before your meeting. An estate plan isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, so we recommend you adapt this advice to your situation.
Gathering Details for an Effective Estate Plan
Deciding where those you love fit into your estate plan beforehand eases the drafting process. This includes:
- Considering personal representatives, beneficiaries, and guardians (if applicable). For personal representatives, guardians, and agents under power of attorney, in case your first choices aren't available, list alternates. If possible, talking to your candidates before your estate planning meeting can help you see if they're capable and willing to act for you.
- Pondering issues such as how you want to handle end-of-life care and whether you can age in place or could need care elsewhere.
- Deciding if you want to let loved ones access any online accounts and how you will give them the login information, such as through a letter of intent.
- Adding funeral or burial plans or instructions.
- Logging details about who you will include in your estate plan: legal names, ages, contact info, and any specific instructions. You may also note the nature of your relationships with loved ones and any pets who need care.
As you assemble each piece, this data sets the stage for the rest of the information to gather.
Essential Information for Building a Solid Estate Plan
If your loved ones form the heart of your estate plan and a will and related documents provide the lifeblood, the following are the “bones” that support your intentions.
- bank and investment statements
- insurance plans
Other documents and data:
- Any existing wills or trusts
- Real estate, vehicle, or boat titles
- Income sources and any debts
- Personal items of sentimental value, such as jewelry or fine art, that you want to leave to others
- Any organizations you're a member of
- Business agreements and intellectual property certificates (if applicable)
List approximate values for your assets. Note any joint beneficiaries or owners for financial accounts and real estate.
Also, consider questions that could guide the discussion.
Depending on the circumstances, LWP&E might request more documents that affect your estate plan, such as contracts or agreements.
We also value and respect your privacy. In some cases, we might request personally identifiable information such as Social Security or financial account numbers. If you're unsure about which data to bring, ask us before your meeting. (We keep such details confidential.)
This information helps your attorney understand your situation to tailor an estate plan to your unique needs and goals.
Do you have questions about your first estate planning meeting? We would be happy to answer them. Contact LWP&E online or call (207) 377-3966.