By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
August 8, 2019
What to Expect During Your First Meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney
Deciding to meet with an estate planning attorney is a big first step. Creating a comprehensive estate plan is the only way to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death, and working with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is the best way to make that happen.
If you’re like a lot of people, you’ve probably never discussed these issues with a professional before. Don’t worry. With the right preparation and expectations, your first meeting with the estate planning attorney will go smoothly.
In order to advise you, your estate planning attorney will need answers to personal questions and access to certain financial documents. For some, providing this information can feel uncomfortable.
But it’s important to be forthcoming with the information needed. This will enable your attorney to develop an estate plan specific to your situation and goals. If you withhold information, you could end up with an estate plan that doesn’t adequately serve your needs.
Remember, you are working with an attorney to benefit from their expertise. To make the most of it, you should be as open and honest as possible. Here are a few ways to prepare for your meeting.
Know the Objectives of the Meeting
There are many ways to approach estate planning. Some people are looking to protect their assets. Others want to avoid taxes. And others have the goal of setting up a charitable giving strategy.
First and foremost, your estate planning attorney wants to know what your objectives are. This will be the main focus of your initial meeting.
Have Answers Ready
“What are your planning goals?” will be the first question of the meeting – at least at Haimo Law. Once you have thoroughly communicated your goals and concerned, your attorney will ask more tailored questions about your financial situation and any beneficiaries that may be involved in your plan.
Questions may include:
- What is your net worth?
- What assets are you trying to protect?
- Who can you trust with your estate plan?
- What debts do you owe?
- Who are the others members of your family that are relevant to estate planning?
- Do you have any special circumstances that affect your plans for the future?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions before the estate planning meeting, your meeting will not be as efficient. Take some time to sit down and answer these questions for yourself before you meet with your attorney.
Have Documents Ready
Want to make this the most efficient meeting possible? Have documents that you can share with your attorney.
The following documents, or information about the following assets, can help you deliver a more accurate picture about your net worth and what you are trying to protect:
- Retirement accounts
- Property valuations
- Bank statements
- Securities and their value
- Investment accounts
Take a look at these assets before you head into the meeting. You might be surprised to see that you are worth more (or less) than the net worth that you would calculate on the spot.
Prepare Questions of Your Own
Your first estate planning meeting does not have to be an interview. You are the central figure of your estate plan.
Learning about the ins and outs of an estate plan will only help you as you begin to create one for you and your family. A solid set of questions will also help you create reasonable expectations for the relationship you are going to create with your estate planning attorney.
Don’t be afraid to ask about the following during your first estate planning meeting:
- How plans will change if you move, get divorced, become incapacitated, etc.
- Payment structure for your estate planning attorney
- Additional fees that may come up during the estate planning process
- Additional services that can help to enhance your estate plan
The more involved you are in the estate planning process, the easier it will be for you and your attorney to create an effective estate plan that benefits you, your family, and your business.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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